November 17, 2012

Narmer, The First Pharaoh

Narmer, The First Pharaoh
MENES (the Horus Narmer) is the legendary first pharaoh of the 1st Egyptian dynasty. According to tradition he managed to gather together the resources of his Upper Egyptian Kingdom and successfully invade the Delta. In subjugating the provinces of Lower Egypt he brought the whole of the Nile Valley under his domination from the First Cataract to the sea. Narmer set up a fortification south of the apex of the Delta near the borderline between the Two Lands. It was known as the ‘White Wall’, probably in reference to the Upper Egyptian Kingdom it represented, though later known as Memphis.

The legends which have come down to us of Egypt’s first pharaoh have undergone thousands of years of embellishment. Traditionally recognised as the founder of Memphis and the Temple to Ptah God, its chief deity, Narmer pharaoh was said also to have surrounded his chosen headquarters with dykes and diverted the river Nile which hitherto flowed through the sandhills of the Libyan range through an artificial channel dug between two mountain ranges. It was said, furthermore, that he constructed a lake around the White Wall which was fed by the river. A famous slate known as the Palette of Narmer (Cairo Museum) records his military triumph. Narmer is sculpted in low relief on both faces: on one side he wears the White Crown of Upper Egypt and on the other the Red Crown of Lower Egypt, thus portraying him as monarch of both kingdoms. The reliefs, executed with flair and confidence, show the victorious monarch striking a kneeling enemy with a raised club, inspecting the bodies of decapitated enemies and, accompanied by fan-bearers, symbolically represented as the ‘Strong Bull’ breaking fortifications of a township as he tramples the enemy. The Horus hawk is symbolically depicted triumphant over the land of the papyrus: the Delta.


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