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Narmer Macehead1

Narmer Macehead

For more images see: Narmer Image Gallery.

The Narmer Macehead forms part of the Main Deposit found in 1899 at Hierakonpolis,[1] and is now housed in the Ashmolean Museum,Oxford.[2]

The scene portrayed is believed to have a location somewhere within Lower Egypt due to the shrine with a pitched roof with heron on top as this is the shrine of Djebaut, a district of Buto in north-western Delta. However this theory is complicated by the wavy walled enclosure shown which looks like a structure recently found at Hierakonpolis.[1][3] Behind the seated figure of Narmer it is possible that a Vizier (ṯt) may be shown though the hieroglyphs do not have the full term (ṯ3iti)[1], his sandal-bearer is also portrayed below him[4] and above the king is represented Nekhbet hovering protectively above him [2]. There are also standard bearers portraying too falcons, Wepwawet with the šdšd device, and another with the royal placenta.[1] Three bound captives seem to be given to king, labels around them saying 120,000 captives in total[5] with 400,000 cattle and 1,422,000 sheep and goats though this figure can in no way be credible. [1] Some attest the the three prisoner may in fact just be men who are holding their hands close together and are not bound like prisoners.[6]

Some believe this to show the marriage of Narmer to the Queen Neithhotep A, uniting the South of Egypt to the North[3], however there is no comparative evidence for this.[1] Other theories attest that this is a depiction of his Sed festival and that the cow and calf portrayed may be Hathor,[2] another also states this may be an event mentioned in the Palermo Stone called the Appearance of the King of Lower Egypt (Ḫˤt-bity) as a heb-sed festival would normally be portrayed on a platform with double stairs and throne.[6]

Narmer Macehead

Narmer Macehead Drawing


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Wilkinson, T, A, H. (2001) Early Dynastic Egypt London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26011-6.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Tyldesley, J. (2011) Myths & Legends of Ancient Egypt Glasgow: Ellipsis Books Limited.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Tyldesley, J. (2006) The Complete Queens of Egypt Cairo: American University Press.
  4. Clayton, P.A (2001) Chronicles of the Pharaohs London: Thames & Hudson.
  5. McDermott, B.(2004) Warfare In Ancient Egypt London: Sutton Publishing Limited.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Millet, N.B (1990) The Narmer Macehead and Related Objects Journal of American Research Center in Egypt: Vol. 27, pp. 53-59