of the marshlands in Egypt are located in the Nile Delta,
in Lower-Egypt and although it might go too far to interpret
this sign as a symbol for the whole of Lower-Egypt, it does
point to at least a part of it.
alternative interpretation for this symbol that has sometimes
been forwarded, would be that each papyrus plant represents
the number 1.000 and that the falcon-king subdued 6.000 enemies.
The papyrus plant was indeed used in later hieroglyphic writing
to denote the number 1.000, but it was drawn in a somewhat
different manner than the papyrus plants on the palette. Furthermore,
it is not so certain that the signs used at the very beginning
of hieroglyphic writing have the same phonetic or even ideographic
meaning. The alternative interpretation seems a bit too far-fetched.
- Bottom scene
the king's feet, at the bottom of the palette's back, lie
two overthrown, naked enemies. One of their arms is raised
up, the other is drawn behind their backs. Their legs are
sprawling. In fact, their entire posture indicates that they
are fallen enemies.
the left of each victim, a hieroglyphic sign is drawn, the
left-most representing a wall and the other some sort of knot.
Both signs are usually interpreted as names of places that
have been overthrown by Narmer. Their reading is unknown so
even if they do denote names of places, we do not know which
places they are. In light of the symbolic representation of
a marshland in the main scene of the palette, it is not unlikely
that these two places were located in the Nile Delta.
- Top scene
the top scene of the palette's front, the second figure from
the left, Narmer, is represented wearing the Red Crown that
is usually associated with Lower Egypt. He holds a mace in
his left hand, while his right arm is bent over his chest,
holding some kind of flail. The two signs in from of him represent
his name, but they are not written in the so-called serekh.
is again followed by an apparently bald figure that holds
his sandals in his left hand and some kind of basket in his
rectangle above this sandal-bearer's head contains a sign
of uncertain meaning.
king is preceded by a long-haired person. The signs accompanying
this figure could be read as Tshet if they already had the
value they would have in later hieroglyphic writing. The meaning
of these signs is unknown.
A person similarly designed and with the same hieroglyphs,
can also be found on the ceremonial mace-heads of both Narmer
and 'Scorpion'. His role is normally interpreted as that of
a 'shaman'. It must be noted, however, that if this Tshet
had some kind of priestly function, his representation as
a long-haired instead of a bald man, is atypical for later
representations of priests.
the Tshet figure, four persons are holding a standard. The
left-most standard represents some kind of animal skin, the
second a dog and the next two a falcon. These standards might
be the emblems of the royal house of Narmer, or of the regions
that already belonged to his kingdom.
object of this procession is made clear on the right hand
side of the scene: 10 decapitated corpses are shown lying
on the ground, their heads thrown between their legs. Above
the victims, a ship with a harpoon and a falcon in it, are
drawn. These signs are often interpreted as the name of the
conquered region. If this name has remained the same throughout
the history of Ancient Egypt, the region conquered by Narmer
was the Mareotis region, the 7th Lower-Egyptian province.
two signs in front of the probable name of the region, the
wing of a door and a sparrow are thought to mean 'create'
or 'found'. The entire group could thus be interpreted that
on the occasion of the conquest of the Mareotis region, Narmer
founded a new province, whiche name was written by the ship,
the harpoon and the falcon.
- Central scene
central scene on the palette's front represents two men tying
together the stretched necks of two fabulous animals. Between
the animal's necks, a circular area is a bit deeper than the
lower circular area indicates the place where a cosmetic was
put if this were not a ceremonial palette.
tying together of the necks of the two animals has often been
interpreted as a symbol for the tying together of Upper and
Lower Egypt. Nothing, however, indicates that the animals
are to be seen as the symbols of Upper or Lower Egypt. This
is a unique image and no later parallels are known. It is
not impossible that they have just been used to create a circular
area in the centre of the palette.