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Narmer (Eski Mısır)

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Narmer, M.Ö. 3100 yıllarında hüküm sürmüş olan ve birçok bilim adamı tarafından, Mısır'daki ilk hanedanlığı kurmuş olan firavun olarak adlandırılmaktadır. Geçmişte Ka'nın (Akrep Kralın) veliahdı olarak tahta çıkıp, Aşağı ve Yukarı Mısır'ı birleştiren firavun olarak tanınmakta olan Narmer'in, son dönemde keşfedilen bulgular ile Akrep Kral ile aynı kişi olabileceği ihtimali güçlenmektedir.

1898'de Hierakonpolis'te bulunan ünlü Narmer Tabletlerinde, Aşağı ve Yukarı Mısır'ın birleşmesinden bahseden Narmer'in bu tabletler sayesinde Mısır'ın ilk firavunu olabileceği düşünülmekte, fakat geleneksel tarihçilerin geçerli saydığı Manetho'nun firavun listesinde söz konusu birleştirici firavundan Menes olarak addedilmektedir. Bu çerçevede Mısır'ın ilk firavunu konusu, halen tarih ve arkeoloji dünyasında tartışmaların devam ettiği bir konu olarak gündemde kalmaya devam etmiştir.

Bu döneme ait arkeolojik bilgilerin çok net olmaması sebebiyle, bazı bilim adamları Manetho'nun listesinde yer alan Menes ile Narmer'in hiyerogliflerdeki görünüm benzerliği nedeni aynı kişi olduğunu öne sürerken, bazı bilim adamları ise Narmer'in oğlu ve veliahdı olan Hor-Aha ile Menes'in aynı kişi olduğunu öne sürmüştür.


Ortaya atılan başka bir teoriye göre ise, Narmer'in Mısır'ı asıl olarak birleştiren ve Akrep Kral olarak adlandırılan bir Yukarı Mısır Firavunun yerine acilen tahta geçmek zorunda olan veliahdı olduğu öne sürülmüş, ve Mısır'ın birleştirilmesi zaferinin bu hızlı değişiklik nedeni ile Narmer'e ithaf edildiği iddia edilmiştir.

Yakın zamanda Den's ve Qa'a's mezarlarında bulunan firavunlar listesinde, Narmer'den Aşağı ve Yukarı Mısır'ın birleştiricisi olarak bahsedilirken, Hor-Aha'nın onun yerine tahta geçtiğinden bahsedilmiş fakat Menes'e ait hiçbir kayda rastlanmamıştır.

Karısı Neiphotep A ile 2 oğlu olan Narmer'in ilk oğlu Hor-Aha; Narmer'den sonra tahta geçmiş ondan sonra ise tahta küçük oğlu Djer geçmiştir. Abidos'un Umm el Ga'ab, bölgesindeki krallar mezarlığında iki oda (B17&B18) şeklinde keşfedilen Narmer'in mezarı, kendisinden önce hüküm sürdüğüne inanılan Ka'nın (Akrep Kral) mezarı yakınında bulunmuştur.

1994 yazında İsrail'deki Nahal Tillah kazısı sırasında bulunan seramik bir parça üzerinde 1898'de bulunan Narmer Tabletlerindeki firavun sembolünün aynısına rastlanmış, daha sonra yapılan tarihlendirme ve mineral testleri sonucunda söz konusu seramik parçanın 5000 yıl önce İsrail'e Mısır'dan getirilmiş olan bir şarap karafına ait olduğu saptanmıştır.[1]

Narmer (English Language)
Narmer (Ancient Egyptian - "Striker") was an Egyptian pharaoh who ruled in the 32nd century BC. Thought to be the successor to the pre-dynastic Serket, he is considered by some to be the founder of the First dynasty. It is thought by many archaeologists that Serket is actually identical with Narmer.

Narmer's name is represented phonetically by the hieroglyphic symbol for a catfish (n'r) and that of a chisel (mr). Other modern variants of his name include "Narmeru" or "Merunar", but convention uses "Narmer". Like other First Dynasty Kings, his name is a single word ("The Striker") and may be shorthand for "Horus is the Striker".

The southern king Narmer (perhaps the legendary Menes) wins a victory over the northern king which is immortalized by Narmer's Palette. The famous Narmer Palette, discovered in 1898 in Hierakonpolis, shows Narmer displaying the insignia of both Upper and Lower Egypt, giving rise to the theory that he unified the two kingdoms. Traditionally, Menes is credited with that unification, and he is listed as being the first pharaoh in Manetho's list of kings, so this find has caused some controversy.

Some Egyptologists hold that Menes and Narmer are in fact the same person; some hold that Menes is the same person with Horus Akha (aka. Hor-Aha) and he inherited an already-unified Egypt from Narmer; others hold that Narmer began the process of unification but either did not succeed or succeeded only partially, leaving it to Menes to complete.

Another equally plausible theory is that Narmer was an immediate successor to the king who did manage to unify Egypt (perhaps the King Scorpion whose name was found on a macehead also discovered in Hierakonpolis), and adopted symbols of unification that had already been in use perhaps for a generation. It should be noted that while there is extensive physical evidence of there being a pharaoh named Narmer, so far there is no evidence other than Manetho's list and from legend for a pharaoh called Menes. The King Lists recently found in Den's and Qa'a's tombs both list Narmer as the founder of their dynasty.

King Narmer

His wife is thought to have been Neithhotep A, a princess of northern Egypt. Inscriptions bearing her name were found in tombs belonging to Narmer's immediate successors Hor-Aha and Djer, implying either that she was the mother or wife of Hor-Aha.

His tomb is thought to have been comprised of two joined chambers (B17 and B18) found in the Umm el-Qa'ab region of Abydos.

During the summer of 1994, excavators from the Nahal Tillah expedition in southern Israel discovered an incised ceramic shard with the serekh sign of Narmer, the same individual whose ceremonial slate palette was found by James E. Quibell in Upper Egypt. The inscription was found on a large circular platform, possibly the foundations of a storage silo on the Halif Terrace. Dated to ca. 3000 BC, mineralogical studies of the shard conclude that it is a fragment of a wine jar which was imported from the Nile valley to Israel some 5000 years ago.

The name Narmer has been found all over Egypt including the local vicinities of Tarkhan to the South of Memphis, the Helwan cemeteries excavated by Zaki Y. Saad, immediately to the East and in the subterranean eastern shaft of Djoser's Step pyramid complex at Saqqara. Obviously he was remembered with some reverence in the area. Perhaps when the earliest site of the Capital is finally located (possibly to the North West) we will be in a much better position to evaluate Narmer's role with Memphis or Inbw hdj as it was then known.

Writing was fairly widespread during this period and although hundred of wooden and ivory labels have been found engraved with hieroglyphs little is known of the individual signs, for example ; the serech of Aha above is thought to feature mud brick paneling (early Palace facade) topped by an unknown structure with a curved roof. From a modern point of view this might seem to refer to the royal aviaries of Aha, where the mace or fighting stick substitutes for a perch and the arched hieroglyph a "pigeon hole" for the Pelegrine falcon to enter.

The arched hieroglyph however is more likely to be derived from the earlier roof shape which makes up the national shrine of lower Egypt which is partly seen on the 'macehead of King Scorpion'. Something quite similar in design to the Aha hieroglyph (a protected enclosure for a female) is also seen on the macehead of Narmer. The shape is also to be seen in the plant like form below.

The ritual mace head of 'Scorpion' is one of the rare artefacts to have survived from this king's reign, and is one of the oldest Egyptian works of art. It is a rounded piece of limestone, shaped like the head of a mace of 25 cm. high. Its dimensions and the fact that it is decorated both show that it was intended as a ritual artefact and not as a real mace head. The mace head was found by archaeologists Quibell and Green during their expedition of 1897/98 in the main deposit at Hierakonpolis. This main deposit also contained other artefacts from the Pre-dynastic and Early Dynastic Periods, among them a long narrow vase also showing the name of king 'Scorpion', as well as, perhaps, the Narmer Palette. It is now on display at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.[2]

The Mace Head of King Scorpion
King Catfish, Also Called Narmer
The unification of Egypt at the end of the Predynastic period took place in two stages: spread of a uniform material culture, as evidenced by the diffusion of products characteristic of the Naqada culture, centered around the city of Naqada, also called Nubt, and the establishment of unified political control. Later Egyptian tradition contains references to the existence of separate northern and southern kingdoms, perhaps at Buto in the Delta and Hierakonpolis in Upper Egypt, respectively.

Hierakonpolis has been producing much evidence of its being an important center. It was a major urbanized center of the Naqada culture and a residence of powerful Upper Egyptian chiefs. The two-sided Narmer palette, for example, is interpreted as being a thanks-offering for the successful definitive victory of the southern over the northern kingdoms.

Front (and Back) views of the Narmer PaletteBack (and front) views of the Narmer Palette
Narmer Palette

King Narmer is thought to have reigned c. 3150 BCE as first king of the 1st dynasty (and/or last king of the 0 dynasty) of a unified ancient Egypt. The rebus of his name as shown on his palette and on other inscriptions is composed of a chisel, thought to be read mr, above a catfish, thought to be read as n'r. King Narmer, or Catfish as he could also be called, appears thus on seal impressions from the 1st Dynasty tombs of King Den (tomb) and King Ka (Tomb) at Abydos (where we believe he may have himself built a tomb), and also at Tell Ibrahmin Awad. Narmers name and that of his possible predecessor Scorpion have also been found on pottery vessels from the site of Minshat Abu Omar in the eastern Delta. The name of Narmer also occurs in Hierakonpolis on objects in addition to the Palette and Macehead such as potsherds etc.

Narmer's importance as the probable unifier of Lower and Upper Egypt is indicated primarily by the Palette and the Macehead which are attributed to him. His name-rebus appear on both. But his power in the region must have extended further, since Egyptian sherds inscribed with Narmer's name have also been found and in southern Palestine.

The Narmer Palette was discovered by J.E.Quibell at Hierakonpolis in 1897-98. The obverse is divided into three registers, uppermost of which gives his name in a serekh flanked by human-faced bovines. The second register shows Narmer wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt smiting an enemy. The third register shows dead, nude enemies. On the reverse the upper register showing his name-serekh is repeated. The second register shows Narmer now wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt, inspecting rows of nude, decapitated enemies. The third register shows a man mastering serpent-necked lions, and the fourth register shows a bull destroying a town and trampling a dead enemy.

Narmer may have considered Buto as the central capital of the Delta he had just conquered. On his palette is a hieroglyphic group that could be read as Ta Mehu, the later name for the Delta region. Since Narmer is shown with the Red Crown he was thus the first to ascribe this Crown to the entire Delta and thus Lower Egypt. He may have transferred the Red Crown from Nubt/Naqada to represent the entirety of Lower Egypt.

The Narmer macehead, also discovered at Hierakonpolis, has had three interpretations. Petrie's theory, also held by later scholars, was that the mace head depicted the political marriage of Nithotep, princess of the north, with Narmer. Other scholars feel the macehead depicts a celebration by Narmer of his conquest of the north, while still others regard the macehead as commemorating a Sed-festival of the king. Nithoteps grave has been found at Naqada, with Narmers name as well as with King Ahas name. Nithotep thus is linked with two kings as wife and mother.

Most recently, new studies of the images on the macehead put forth the theory that the scenes are not primarily commemorative but are simply pictorial versions of year-names. The focus of the scene is the king's figure, seen sitting robed in a long cloak enthroned under a canopy on a high dais, wearing the Red Crown and holding a flail. The enclosure within which he sits can be interpreted as a shrine or temple. He is attended by minor figures of fan-bearers, bodyguards, with long quarterstaves and an official who may be either vizier or heir-apparent. In front of Narmer three men run a race towards him, while above them stands four men carrying standards. Facing the king is a cloaked and beardless figure, over whom is a simple enclosure in which stands a cow and calf (a nome sign).

The running figures may represent Muu dancers, long associated with Buto, presenting a welcome to the new lord of the Delta. The seated figure facing Narmer may be the chief of Buto rather than a princess of the Delta.

Beneath these figures are symbols of numbers. The numbers have been recently interpreted to indicate 400,000 cattle, 1,422,000 small animals, and 120,000 men (not women and children, only males.) This would have provided for a total human population of the Delta of perhaps 600,000.

The macehead then commemorates the completion of the conquest of Lower Egypt, not with a royal dynastic marriage etc, but perhaps, with the first Appearance of the King of Lower Egypt, by an actual census of the Delta people, similar to and a precursor of the census taken by William the Conqueror after he won England.

Some scholars speculate that Menes and Narmer may be the same person. Menes is the Greek form of the name of the legendary first human king of Egypt as given by Manetho, King Catfish, Also Called Narmer the historian living in Hellenistic times who constructed one form of King Lists.

Jar-sealings found by Petrie at Abydos associate the "mn" glyph, the gaming board, from which Menes apparently receives his name, with Narmer. Narmer was shown in a serekh and Meni was shown in an unenclosed space, like a son and heir.

Hor-Aha, the first king of the 1st Dynasty and thus Narmer's probable successor and possibly his son by Queen Nithotep, perhaps took the second royal name of Men, which means "established", thus being the origin of the name Menes.

Evidence indicating all this is an ivory label from the tomb of Queen Nithotep at Naqada. It shows the name Hor-Aha, and the name Men, in front of it. [3]
[1] tr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narmer
[2] www.crystalinks.com/narmer.html
[3] By Marie Parsons, "King Catfish, Also Called Narmer", The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, Egypt Before the Pharaohs by Michael Rice, Journal of the ARCE, 1990, Narmer: First King of Upper and Lower Egypt, a Reconsideration of His Palette and Macehead, Abstract by Frank Yurco, published in JSSEA #XXV, and Early Egypt: Rise of Civilisation in the Nile Valley by A.J. Spencer