This week we read chapter 5 and 6. King Tut was discussed in the online lecture. I found the discovery of King Tut to be very interesting. I remember visiting the Seattle Pacific Science Center when they had a King Tut exhibit. I don’t have the best memory, so I forgot majority of the facts about him that I learned in the past. Reading in the textbook about how much of a problem robbery was in Egypt, it is crazy how his tomb was untouched and fully intact. He was the son of Akhenatan and Akhenatan’s sister, which could be part of the reason for his early death. He died at 18 or 19-years-old. He had problems with his operating one of his feet. I did not know that the main reason for his death was an infection in his broken leg. The story of King Tut is so fascinating.
The artwork I chose to analyze is the “Palette of Narmer” from Hierakonpolis (c. 3100 BC) in Egyptian Museum, Cairo. It was found during an excavation during 1897-1898. James Quibell and Frederick Green discovered the artifact in 1898. It was with items used for rituals in a temple. Usually palettes where used to prepare eye makeup. It is made of schist and 64 cm tall. It helped people to identify Menes who is considered the first pharaoh of Egypt. There are two sides to this palette. The one on the left is called the Upper Egypt side due to the white crown the Narmer has on and the back side it has the pharaoh with the red crown, which is called the Lower Egypt side.
Upper Egypt Side:
The large male figure in the of the Upper Egypt side is King Narmer (representing King Menes). His size and placement in the center of the palette is to represent how important he is. His legs are facing a different direction then his upper body. He is wearing a kilt and white crown. The color of his crown is believed to represent Upper Egypt. He has an arm raised above one of his enemies looking like he is about to strike while the other is holding the hair, which could be seen as a symbol of authority. It is a classic sign of superiority and may be one of the first to use it in an image. The enemy is naked and compared to the king, the enemy appears to be barbaric. Below them, there are a couple naked enemies he has already killed. Their position of their arms is to maybe symbolize that they fallen enemies.
There is one of the his servants behind who is small in comparison to him show how great the he is. The servant has sandals in his hands to symbolize the holiness of the floor the king is standing on or that the scene is showing some sort of ritual. There is a bird in the upper right hand corner. It is the falcon god called Horus. The object the god is on has six what appear to be papyrus plants. The falcon is holding a piece of rope or branch with its human arm emerging the object out of the marsh. People believe this could be a symbol of Lower Egypt. They represent Lower Egypt, showing how King Narmer is the ruler over Upper Egypt.
Lower Egypt Side:
On this side, King Narmer is wearing his red crown to represent Lower Egypt. The king has a weapon like an ax of some sort. There is a servant with sandals just like on the Upper Egypt side to represent holiness or part of a ritual. The top right corner has ten beheaded enemies stacked on top of one another with their heads in the middle of their lower limbs. The curve of the crown of the king hint at how he was able to cut their heads off. The angles used show the Egyptians artistic choices used when they designed their hieroglyphs.
To the left of them there is a figure that could be a priest with four other figures. There is a falcon and ship in the top right corner. The men trying to control the cats (serpopards) in the center of the palette with their necks twisted into each other’s could represent how King Narmer brought together Egypt. The lower surface area made by the lion’s necks is thought of a possible place, “where a cosmetic would be put if this were not a ceremonial palette” (Kinnaer, 2017). The bull on the bottom of the palette could represent the king himself in bull form defeated an enemy or crushing the walls of his enemies cities.
At the top of both sides of the palette, there are two squares. They are called serekh, which, “contained a king’s name in hieroglyphs and was a flattened representation of the royal palace” (Adams, 2011, pg. 50). Next to these serekh are two cow heads, which are supposed to the goddess Bat or Hathor. They protect the king. Some believe they could be bulls and represent the strength of the king.
The main idea throughout these palette is to show how strong of a leader King Narmer is. He was able to defeat his enemies in multiple ways. The scenes on the palette show some of the ways he conquered. People have been lead to think that the two colored crowns symbolize a single ruler, King Narmer’s, ability to bring Upper and Lower Egypt together, but some doubt this idea. Others believe it could just be showing different ceremonial aspects. There has been thoughts developing that it could be representing a, “careful balance of order and chaos that was a fundamental element of the Egyptian idea of the cosmos or to the daily journey of the sun god” (Palette of King Narmer, n.d.). This artifact has helped people learn more about Egyptian culture and how they have shaped our current day ideas about art.
Adams, L. S. (2011). A History of Western Art (5th Edition ed.). New York , New York: McGraw Hill.
Kinnaer, J. (2017). The Ancient Egypt Site. Retrieved from http://www.ancient-egypt.org/history/early-dynastic-period/1st-dynasty/horus-narmer/narmer-artefacts/narmer-palette.html
Palette of King Narmer. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-art-history/ancient-mediterranean-ap/ancient-egypt-ap/a/palette-of-king-narme