The Fiction of King Narmer
By Shawn Postoff
Egyptologists have talked and written about a man named Narmer since the early 20th Century. They have referred to him as though he was once a real person -- a man whose exploits "unified Upper and Lower Egypt" and one whose iconographies suddenly consolidated the foundations of the mighty Egyptian Empire.
Narmer's influence is pegged to a moment that academics refer to as Dynasty 0 -- as though it all magically started with him. Such nonsense ends now, in the year 2019, by the publication of this essay onto the Internet.
I assert that King Narmer is a fictional character. His existence was originally postulated by well-meaning academics in the earliest years of modern Egyptology. Unfortunately, their ideas too-quickly coalesced around a narrow interpretation of the heiroglyphic "spelling" of a distinctive logo called Fish-Chisel. But their reasoning was myopic: it failed to grasp the epic, 1,000-year timescale upon which that particular icon evolved. As a result, Egyptologists throughout the 20th century and into the early years of the 21st have largely accepted the interpretation of King Narmer as fact.
The word Narmer ought more properly be pronounced as NOR-MAR. It operates according to the following two signs:
1) NOR, which is the word-sound made by the heiroglyph of a fish; and
2) MAR, which is the word-sound made by the heiroglyph of a chisel. (Yes, it's also the source for the English word "mar," verb, to carve, pierce, or disfigure.)
Multiple attestations of the Fish-Chisel compound Sound-Sign occur mainly around the time of "Dynasty 0" (roughly 3100 BCE). I place that term in disparaging quotes, since I assert that the miracle of Egypt began roughly 10 centuries earlier than Dynasty 0.
My point is simply to demonstrate that, as I write this, most scholars of Egypt subscribe to the theory of Narmer the man, and quest to know who he was. See, for instance, the exhaustive and comprehensive website at www.narmer.org, whereat the word NOR-MAR appears on a range of artefacts made from bone, clay, and carved slate.
With respect to carved slate, the most famous attestation of NOR-MAR occurs on the celebrated "Narmer Palette":
This magnificent work of art is indeed a masterpiece.
It is NOT, however, a foundational text of Egypt.
Rather, like many of the other ceremonial palettes carved at roughly the same time, it is a one-thousand year-old corruption of an earthenware original.
The Morphic Fish
To prove this assertion, I direct the Seeker's attention to the upper-most level of the palette.
At this top-most layer, the Seeker will see on Side 1 that between two bull-heads there is a castle with a logo in it, and that logo is a little NOR-MAR. Similarly, on Side 2, the Seeker will observe that the logo itself (including the castle) is bigger, and exists between its two bull-heads just above another seemingly redundant occurance of NOR-MAR.
A little NOR-MAR, and a big NOR-MAR just above a naked (unfortified) NOR-MAR:
There's a very logical reason for this small-to-big distinction, and it relates to the fact that this palette, like all others from the same archaeological era, is based on a much older expression of the exact same storytelling cycle.
When investigating T2B, a keen-eyed Seeker may choose to focus on the inside convex part of the Upper Bowl. Doing so may eventually reveal a beguiling combination of images that can best be described as a little Fish-Spear inside a castle (left), and a big Fish-Spear inside a castle (right):
On the basis of such sharply pointed evidence (namely, a 1,000 year difference in the span of time between two artefacts depicting the exact same word logo, "Fish-Spear"), I conclude that the theory of King Narmer the historical man is dead. I do not believe King Narmer ever existed as a real human being.
Instead, I propose that this morphic Fish-Spear is a far more complex logo that interacts with its castle (i.e. the Lower Bowl) in such a way as to represent two distinctive time-scales:
The little Fish-Spear depicts the Generations of Ishmael, Son of Abraham.
The big Fish-Spear depicts the Generations of Isaac, Son of Abraham.