ALRI Ancient Egypt Course
Unit 1: Introduction, Egyptian prehistory,
and pre-dynastic Egypt
Click on images or links for larger
versions of the images.
Instructor TKW inserted in the funerary mask if King
History and Archeology are both necessary for the study of
Archeology studies "artifacts", and that includes things other
than stone and metal. In Egyptian desert conditions that
can include normaly perishable items such as bread and people.
Dynastic Egypt as well as modern Egypt is essentially the Nile
River Valley. The rest was and is dessert with a few
widely scattered oases. As we shall see, however,
there were periods in pre-history when the monsoon pattern
shifted, and much of the desert was well watered. The
most recent of these periods was in the late paleolithic and
early mesolithic (9500 to 4500 BC) when vast areas of Egypt's
Eastern and Western Deserts teemed with fauna now present
only in sub-Saharan Africa.
Egyptian monumental architecture has fascinated the outside
world since ancient times. Every foreign conqueror or
tourist wamted to take home his or her own Egyptian
monument. This, of course left some gaps in Egypt's own
landscape. Where once there were two obelisks in front
of the First Pylon (of Ramses II) in Luxor, now there is only
one. Its mate is in Paris.
That missing Luxor obelisk now stands in the center of the
Place de la Concorde.
Bey Mohammed Ali of Egypt traded it for a large clock.
Neither French nor Egyptian engineers have ever been able to
make the clock work. It still stands unworking at the
Mohammed Ali mosque in Cairo's citadel.
London got its obelisk from Alexandria and then almost
lost it at sea when its specially built floating container
broke lose from its tow boat in a storm. It was
recovered in the Bay of Biscay.
After a perilous recovery effort, the Brits erected their
obelisk on the Thames Embankment in August of 1879.
The London obelisk is flanked by two British-made bronze
sphinxes, one of which was damaged by a bomb dropped on London
from a German airship during WWI. The sphinxes are
mounted to look inward toward the obelisk rather than in the
Egyptian manner, looking outward as guards. Nobody seems
to know whether this was a mistake or if it was intentional.
New York's obelisk also came from Alexandria and it was the
mate of the one that now stands in London.
Rather than building a capsule to transport the NY obelisk,
the US navy just cut a hole in the side of a transport ship,
slid the obelisk in, and then patched up the hole. When
the ship arrived in New York, the process was reversed.
The NY obelisk was erected in Central Park in 1879
where it still stands, across East Drive from the Metropolitan
Museum. The Three obelisks in Paris, London, and Rome
are all known as "Cleopatra's needles". For more
information on the "needles" go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleopatra's_Needle.
(But always remember that "Wikipedia" can be edited by
anyone: although this entry seems accurate, others might
have to be taken "Cum grano salis".)
There are thirty known Egyptian obelisks in the world, and 13
of them are in Rome (7 from Ancient Egypt, one made in Egypt
for Emperor Domitian, and one made for the Medici when they
shipped a "Roman" obelisk back to their Pitti Palace gardens
in Florence -- the other four were probably made in Italy in
ancient times, although the stone may have come from
Egypt.) There are only seven left in Egypt, unless there
are some hidden in the sands. The reason Rome has so
many obelisks is that the ancient Romans shipped them back to
Rome after conquering Egypt (Anthony, Cleopatra, and all
that). Istanbul also has one that was shipped there from
Egypt by the Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius. The
ancient Romans put obelisks to various uses -- mostly
decorative in the center of horse-race tracks, but one was
used also as the gnomon or style of a
giant sundial erected by Augustus on Rome's Campus
Martius. Several were even put to a legitimate Egyptian
religious use in front of a Temple of Isis, also on the Campus
Martius. Almost all of the "Roman" obelisks eventually
fell, but most were moved around and re-erected by Pope Sixtus
V (Pope from 1585 to 1590) at the ends of long avenues
connecting Rome's "pilgrimage churches". One stood for
centuries next to Constantine's old basilica of St. Peter, but
Sixtus V moved to its present site in 1586, shortly before the
"new" St. Peter's basilica was built. The image shows
that same obelisk where it stands in the square in front to
St. Peter's basilica in the Vatican (as seen from the cupola
of the basilica dome). More information on the world's
Egyptian obelisks is available at http://egipto.com/obeliscos/obeliskindex.html
The world's tallest obelisk and the world's tallest
free-standing unreinforced stone structure (555 feet = a bit
more than 169 meters), is the Washington Monument in
Washington DC. Interestingly, the next biggest obelisk
anywhere is also in the US: it's the Jefferson Davis
Monument in Fairview Kentucky, near where Davis was born --
351 feet (107 meters) of poured concrete.
Arlington County, VA, lacks a monumental obelisk, but
pyramid-shaped rooftops cover several large building in the
Metro corridor. The biggest seems to be on the
triangular US Government building bounded by Washington
Boulevard, Clarendon Boulevard, and North Highland
Street. The building also has three corner turrets,
which are another unfortunate signature of Arlington's
Herodotos of Halicarnassus wrote about his travels in Egypt in
the 5th century BC and thus became the first known foreign
Egyptologist. Like many of his successors he got some
things right and many things wrong.
The kindest description would be "collectors", but by modern
standards they were looters of Egypt, unmatched until
Mussolini stole yet another obelisk from Aksum Ethiopia in
1937. See http://www.google.com/search?q=aksum+obelisk
for information on the return of the obelisk to Aksum 68 years
Napoleon took hundreds of scientists and experts with him when
he conquered and held Egypt from 1798 to 1801. That
didn't prevent him from looting the country. In fact, he
left behind a corrupt Consulate that continued to bribe local
officials for many years after his departure so that France
could have first pick of newly discovered antiquities.
The French conquest popularized Egypt in Europe, and hoards of
European looters flowed in to compete with France.
French interest in things Egyptian continued even after the
1815 Congress of Vienna and the restoration of the French
monarchy. Napoleon's scholars and engravers finally
completed his grand academic project Description de l'Egypte
in 1828 (final drawings in 1836). The multi volume set
is still an extremely valuable resource to Egyptologists,
particularly since so much of the paint work drawn by
Napoleon's artists has faded during intervening years. For
more on Napoleon's expedition, see http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/description.htm.
whole of the French text and all of the plates of the
Description de l"Egypt is now available on the internet at http://descegy.bibalex.org/index1.html
courtesy of the new Bibliotheca
During Napoleon's Egyptian sojourn, his troops found at
Rosetta the trilingual stone that unlocked hieroglyphic
writing (at least to European/Western eyes). Building on
the work of others, Jean-Francois
deciphered parts of the Rosetta Stone in 1822 and proved
its similarity to Coptic. Some modern Egyptian scholars
disparage the work of Champllion and other Europeans saying
that Arabs/Egyptians could have told the Europeans everything
the Europeans had "discovered" if the Europeans only had the
wit to ask.
GianBattista Belzoni, an Italian circus strongman, adventurer,
and eventually a semi-legitimate archeologist, worked for the
British Museum, but a corrupt British Consul diverted many of
his finds into private hands. Belzoni believed in brute
force methods whether dealing with competitors or with
Egyptian tombs (he liked battering rams), but he also made
very important discoveries in the Valley of the Kings where he
was the first European excavator and at Abu Simbel where he
excavated the temples of Ramesses II and his wife. He also is
credited with being the first modern European to enter the
burial chamber of the Great Pyramid at Giza. A short
biography of Belzoni is available at http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/belzoni.htm
full text (English, with all illustrations) of his own book
about his explorations and discoveries is at http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k1053464.pagination
Amelia Edwards was the first of the great female Middle-East
Archeologists. She had made a fortune as a novelist
before she became interested in Egypt, and used that fortune
to fund Egyptian explorations. Her bequest to Unuversity
College, London, set up the Edwards Chair of Egyptian
Archaeology and Philology. Flinders Petrie was the first
Edwards Professor. A short bio of Edwards is at http://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/bios/Edwards_
and her book, A Thousand
Miles up the Nile is on the Internet is several formats
(including audiobook) at http://librivox.org/a-thousand-miles-up-the-nile-by-amelia-edwards/
William Matthew Flinders Petrie is the father of
modern scientific Egyptology. His innovations include
the development of historical chronology based on differing
styles of pottery and meticulous field practices. His
work was especially important in establishing Egyptian
prehistory and pre-dynastic and early dynastic
archeolgy. His basic chronology of earliest Egypt is
still the basis of current research. A Petrie bio is at
Artifacts collected and catalogued by Petrie formed the basis
for the Petrie Museum at University College, London (http://www.petrie.ucl.ac.uk/index.html).
Howard Carter's search for the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun was
funded by Lord Carnarvon. A short bio of Carter and an
account of his discovery of Tut's tomb is at http://www.answers.com/topic/howard-carter.
search for Tutankhamun turned up almost 900 thousand internet
locations -- more than you ever wanted to know. (The
Steve Martin King Tut song is at http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/king-tut/976141/.)
American archeologist Kent Weeks heads the Theban Mapping
Project (the area around the Valley of the Kings, Luxor) and
is the leader of the ongoing excavation of KV5, the tomb of
the sons of Rameses II in the Valley of the Kings (http://www.thebanmappingproject.com/sites/browse_tomb_819.html).
Mapping Project's main Internet site is at http://www.thebanmappingproject.com.
For a January 2007 account of the history and
geophysics of the Valley of the Kings, see http://www.geotimes.org/jan07/feature_ValleyKings.html.
Mark Lehner is another american Archeologist who heads the
Giza Plateau Mapping Project (the area around the Great
Pyramids and the Sphinx). Lehner is also the President
of Ancient Egypt Research Associates, Inc. (AERA) which is the
American non-profit that funds most of his research. The
AERA internet site, which is the best source of information on
the ongoing Giza plateau research, is at http://www.aeraweb.org/,
and the portal to Aera projects on the plareau is at http://www.aeraweb.org/projects/.
In December of 2005, American
Archeologis Otto Schaden found KV63, the tirst tomb found in
the Valley of the Kings since Howard Carter found Tut's tomb
(KV62) in 1922. The KV63 web site is at http://www.kv-63.com/.
detected another possible tomb near KV63 with
ground-penetrating radar, but that site has not yet been
excavated. It has tentatively been given the designation
KV64(?). The question mark will be removed after
excavation. Find information about KV64(?) at http://ancienthistory.about.com/b/a/257779.htm.
What can we say about Zahi Hawass? Until recently he was
head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and, for
a short time, Minister of Antiquities. He was long
considered to be the best thing that happened to Egyptian
Archeology since the first Pharaoh put on his crown. Dr.
Hawass was the most influential archaeologist in Egypt,
responsible for supervising his own excavations as well as the
work of foreign expeditions to all of the sites under his
jurisdiction. He received his PhD from the University of
Pennsylvania, and he taught at the University of California in
Los Angeles, Cairo University, and the American University in
Cairo. He was said to be intolerant of views and
archeological theories contrary to his own. His alleged
views and his links to business ventures and to foreign
organizations (like the US National Geographic Society) and to
the Mubarak regime led to his replacement by Dr. Mohamed abd
el Sharraf, the former head of the Egyptian Antiquities
Section of the SCA.
"Everything I know about Egypt, I learned at the
movies". If the pix of Brendan Fraser as
hero-archeologist (actually as an ex-Foreign Legion soldier of
fortune) doesn't do anything for the guys, they can go to http://web.tiscali.it/anakina/an1.jpg
to see the villainess of the recent Mummy movies.
Major periods of ancient Egyptian history.
A human (i.e., genus Homo) footprint found in August 2007 at
the Siwa Oasis in Egypt's Western Desert is said to be 2 to 3
million years old based on the rock formation in which it was
found. Other dating methods will be used to verify its
age. The earliest previously found footprint in
Roccamonfina, Italy, Vesuvian ash is 350 thousand years
old. The oldest Western Hemisphere footprint, from
Vallsequillo Basin near Puebla, Mexico, is said to be 40,000
years old, but that's old enough to change how we think the
earliest folks got to the Americas.
Old Stone age tools from Abydos.
Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens Sapiens made essentially the
same kind of tools in eastern North Africa.
Skeletal comparison between H. Neanderthalis and H.Sapiens
In sandy desert areas, archeologist often find "surface
scatter". Artifacts and remains that may have been
deposited in different soil layers are all found on the same
surface level because the soil between artifact layers has
blown away. In some areas (e.g., around some dry lake
beds in the Saudia Arabian Rub' al Khali and some sites along
the Saudi border with the United Arab Emirates), surfaces
might be completely covered in artifacts, but artifacts are
more widely scattered on Egyptian surfaces. Wherever
they occur, surface scatter lithics are mostly only broadly
classifiable by typology. This photo and several others
used in this "old stona age" section of this page are from the
Internet site of the Abydos Survey for Paleolithic
A map of paleolithic ("old stone age") sites around Abydos.
A cave site near Abydos. Yes, some paleolithic
inhabitants of the Egyptian High Desert were cave men.
At the time of this photo (2002), this cave had not yet been
explored. In the foreground, near the bottom of
the picture is a tiny-looking human figure to provide scale.
Abydos Survey for Paleolithic Sites 2002 base camp.
The Abydos Dig House.
Paleolithic pints from the Petrie Museum,
University College London.
paleolithic and moesolithic times this area was heavily
watered. Early humans hunted (and later herded) in this
area and left painted images of their activities along with
A satellite image shows the location of the Great
(Arabic = Gilf Kebir).
Great Barrier rock art is usually found on overhanging
rock surfaces. There once may have been much more on surfaces more exposed
Examples of Great Barrier rock art. Note that the bottom
half of the second image is interpreted as showing people
swimming, which is not something that could happen with
today's desert conditions.
Mesolithic microliths and points.
The first known use of decimal notation -- numbers written
on a mesolithic flint blade, about 5000 BC.
ivory, stone, and clay female images were sometimes included
in mesolithic and neolithic Egyptian graves to accompany the
male deceased and, perhaps, by sympathetic magic, to provide
for his sexual desires. These are considered to be
precursors of the more numerous shabti images in dynastic Egyptian
A "Badarian" neolithic serated blade -- usually
interpreted as a saw. Badarian neolithic artifacts were
first found in a cluster of ancient settlements in the Asyut
region of Egypt, about half way between Cairo and Luxor.
for information on the Badarian culture. (Note that the
word "culture" when used by archeologists means a recurring
assemblage of artifacts from a specific time and place, which
are thought to constitute the material culture remains of a particular
past human society. Some archaeologists prefer the term
Techno-Complex (Technology-Complexes) to differentiate
material from sociological culture.)
A coiled badarian
beaker, a little more than five inches (13 cm) tall. Early
fifith millennium BC.
This type of pottery derived its color from the way it was
fired -- by placing the coiled pots directly in the coals of
the fire. The part below the surface of the coals
retained the characteristic red terra-cotta color while the
upper parts and interiors were stained by carbon.
Neolithic artifacts and lithics from the Fayum, just south
of the Nile Delta. Fifth and early sixth millennium BC.
Two more chronologies to help separate the periods of Egyptian
history. Note that all dates before about 664 BC are
tentative, and remember that the (-)lithic periods occurred at
different times in different places. That is, Egyptian
mesolithic (for example) is not necessarily the same date
range as mesolithic in other parts of the world.
The appearance of glazed beads in the Badarian culture
around 4000 BC indicates sophisticated firing methods, i.e.,
forced draft of some kind.
sometimes had triangular wedges of white cross-hatched
glaze. This piece from a nearby site is more
sophisticated in that it also shows an asymetrical pattern of
three harpoons each trailing three cords. Much has been
said about this particular piece and about the artistic
esthetic that inspired the asymetrical pattern, but could the
artist simply have forgotten to turn his unfired bowl before
painting in a transparent glaze to make the third
harpoon? Naqada, by the way, is a district about 30
kilometers north of Luxor on the Nile's west bank.
lathe turned mace heads started to appear between 4000 and
3600 BC. They were mounted on handles and used to "smite
enemies". See also below, the Narmer and scorpion mace
heads which were more pear shaped.
Petrie divided the Naqada sequence int three sub-periods:
Naqada I (4000-3500 BC), Naqada II (3500-3200 BC), and Naqada
III (3200-3100 BC).
Naqada III is also sometimes called "Dynasty 0", i.e., a time
of semi-legendary kings that preceded the first dynasty.
originally were simple rectangular smoothed plates of
siltstone or mudstone (not slate of basalt a they are
sometimes incorrectly described.) Later, animal shapes were
adopted, as seen in the two samples above, and still later
complex surface decorations were used. More simple
palettes were actually used for grinding and mixing mostly
mineral makeup. The most complicated palettes probably
either were never actually used or only used once before being
ceremonially dedicated at a temple. (See the Narmer palette,
below). The use to which the "magic" siltstone object
(right) was put is unknown, but the decoration and drilled
holes surely had some significance.
Siltstone is a sedimentary rock which has a composition
intermediate in grain size between the coarser sandstones and
the finer mudstones and shales. Slate is metamorphosized
siltstone, mudstone, or shale and basalt is a fine grain
plutonic igneous rock.
Neolithic ceremonial knives were made of large flint
flakes. They were highly polished on both sides and then
serations in a ripple pattern would be added to only one side by
pressure flaking. Knives such as these were used for
ceremonial funerary purposes at least into the Middle Kingdom
(18th to 21st century BC) although by that time the style was
archaic (as were some of the knives). The exact use to
which the knives were put in pre-dynastic times is unknown,
but in later times the curved knives were used to make the
first abdominal cut for evisceration of a body (about the same
place and size as an initial apendectomy incision) and the
"fishtail" knives were used in the ceremonial "opening of the
mouth" of a corpse (so that the person's Ka could re-enter at
the apprpopriate time) and may have been used analogously in
the "opening of the mouth" of a statue (to recieve a dead
person's Ka for "temporary storage") or to ceremonially open a
room or temple.
for information on the "opening of the mouth" ritual.
The first image shows a knife that was either never used or
used only once (no wear) before being ritually broken by being
struck in the middle.
for information on neolithic flints.
Egyptian artisans produced sophisticated stone as well as
pottery vessels. The first decoration of Naqada pottery
is thought to be an attempt to emulate patterns seen in stone
vessels. Their stone vessels were made using lathes, and
drills and deep undercutting was routinely accomplished.
The stone pot in the lower half of the first image is
particularly noteworthy because of its extremely symetrical
shape. It has a rounded bottom but it noetheless stays
perfectly balanced and upright. An image of the pot
resting on its rounded bottom is at http://www.theglobaleducationproject.org/egypt/pics/saqqara/sqbwl25.jpg.
is part of an internet site devoted to ancient Egyptian
stone technology at
An internet site that shows how the ancient Egyptians bored
and undercut stone vessels is at http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/trades/stone_vessels.htm (with
additional links to other internet sites).
The image on the left shows a Naqada pot with a pattern
imitating the appearance of pots made from local stone.
In Naqada II and Naqada III it became more common to show
boats and Nile River scenes almost to the excusion of other
decorative patterns. These scenes show the importance of
the Nile river to the lives of the people, and they also may
have been precursors of the idea of a voyage (to the Pole
Star?) after death. Recent finds well into the
Egyptian eastern desert of petroglyphs using almost
exactly the same "river motifs" appear to be from the same
period as the boats, flamingos, and foliage on these
Naqada pots; the animal herders of the eastern desert
clearly had contact with the riverine people. The latest
period of the Naqada culture coresponds to "proto-dynastic"
Egypt -- the so called 000, 00, and 0 dynasties.
funeral practices were simple burials near the surface of hot
sans. Natural desiccation took place, as shown in the
first image (a museum display, not an actual grave). In
later times when burials were deeper and chambers were sealed,
bodies would rot unless artificial means were used to
dessicate the body. We'll go into the gruesome and gory
details in a later unit. During the Naqada sequence,
bodies were gradually buried in a slightly more extended
position and assemblages of grave goods became larger
indicating both a spread of wealth (thousands of Naqada graves
have been studied) or a reduction in the price of things found
in graves. In either case, there is clearly an economic
change for the better. The presence of jewelery of
semi-precious stones is a wealth marker as well as an
indicator that there was enough of a market to support
specialized skilled craftesmen.
By the end of the Naqada predynastic period (Naqada III of
"Dynasty 0") a much more sophisticated grave design had
developed. Graves were still dug down from the top, but
superstructures were added and sometimes decorated.
There could also be stairways into the grave used for
ceremonial purposes during and after the burial.
Up until the some time around the middle of the Naqada
period, the Nile Valley was geographically divided and
politically diverse. The map shows five geographic
regions, but they should not be taken as political
divisions. There were actually more and sometimes many
more political entities. Toward the end of the Naqada
sequence -- during "Dynasty 0" -- unification took place as
the Naqada culture spread up and down the valley and
completely eclipsed the neolithic cultures of Lower Egypt and
Nubia. This process was not completed, however, until
about the 4th Dynasty.
The pear shaped mace heads of Naqada III ("Dynasty 0") could
be highly decorated. Both the Narmer (Catfish) and
Scorpion mace heads were found in a temple deposite at
Hierakonpolis (on the Nile's west bank, just north of Edfu),
and the Narmer Palette (see below) was found either in the
same deposit or a few feet away. Narmer, Scorpion, Aha,
and Menes were either one, two, three or four kings (vast
confusion and legendary intermixing of names, attributes, and
accomplishments) at the end of Naqada III. There may
also have been others. Regardless of the details, Narmer
is usually credited with the first unification of Upper and
Lower Egypt. The Narmer mace head shows an enthroned king
wearing the crown of lower Egypt receiving a woman (a bride?)
along with 400 thousand cattle, 1 million 422 thousand smaller
animals (sheep?, goats?), and 120 thousand persons (all
male). Whether it's all tribute, dowery, or war prizes
is not known. For more on Narmer and Hierakonopolis, see
on the mix-up of names of "Dynasty O", see http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/menes.htm.
The Narmer Palette is usually considered to be the the
most important artifact of Naqada III ("Dynasty 0" or
"proto-dynastic" Egypt). Some chronologies list Narmer
as the 1st Pharaoh of the 1st Dynasty. Regardless of
which list he fits into, he is almost universally recognized
as the King who unified Egypt and started the dynastic
period. It's all semi mythological anyway, but
what we know is that Narmer is listed as a king in
some of the earliest Egyptian lists and that this palette,
found in 1898, several millennia later, makes Narmer's claim
that he was ruler of both upper and lower Egypt. The
side with the long twisted animal necks shows him in the crown
of Lower Egypt inspecting the bodies of beheaded enemies, and
the other side shows wearing the tall crown of Upper Egypt and
smiting a conquered foe (above whose head is a raft of Lower
Egyptian papyrus.) The palette is, of course, just
Narmer's own claim to his own fame, and there's no telling
whether he might be exagerating as so many of his Pharoanic
successors exagerated their prowess and their conquests.
We only have his politician's claim for glory ("Mission
accomplished") made way down in southern (Upper) Egypt and far
away from his claimed conquest (Lower Egypt) in the
north. It's also just minimally possible that the Narmer
mace and Narmer Palace were planted years later (but still, of
course, way BC) by a sharp Hierakanopolis public relations
operative working for the local Chamber of Commerce.
How do we know this is Narmer's Palette? It has his
name on both sides of it in a serekh between the
water buffalo in the top range of decorations. There are
two glyphs that make up Narmer's hieroglyphic name, which is
enclosed by a serekh. The serekh, much like the
cartouche later on, always denotes royal names.
In Egyptian hieroglyphs, a serekh
is a rectangular enclosure representing the niched or gated
façade of a palace surmounted by (usually) the Horus
falcon, indicating that the text enclosed is a royal name. The
serekh was the
earliest convention used to set apart the royal name in
ancient Egyptian iconography, predating the later and better
(French for cartridge) by four dynasties and five to seven
hundred years. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serekh.)
The top part of the name in the serekh is a catfish, and the lower part is a
chisel. In ancient Egyptian, catfish is /n‘r/, and chisel is
/mr/. Together they spell /n‘rmr/. We vocalize this as Narmer,
but in reality we don't really know what vowels existed
between the consonants in /n‘rmr/. For that matter, we
don't even know whether his name is Narmer or,
alternatively perhaps, Mernar. It's all just
convention, but at least it's long established
convention: the ancient Greeks and Ptolemaic Egyptians
(also Greeks) called him Narmer.
Whoever unified Egypt, it's certainly established that the
1st Dynasty Pharaohs had all of Egypt under their contol by
about 3050 BC, and maybe a half century earlier. It's
also clear that what had existed in Lower Egypt was
overwhelmed by Upper Egypt; the map above tells the story. What is
certainly not clear is any idea that a military conquest took
place as has been proposed by some interpreters of the Narmer
mace and palette. Much more likely is a gradual
acceptance by Lower Egypt of Upper Egyptian
hegemony. So what's the deal with the palette and
mace? Some experts ay it was all allegory -- Narmer not
conquering Upper Egypt, but rather controlling chaos.
Other savants say that it was Narmerian braggadocio -- and
that it set a pattern that reached its peak with Ramesses II
and his claim that he won his big battle
against the Hittite Empire (under Muwatalli II at the city
of Kadesh on the Orontes River, in what is now he Syria