Scorpion Macehead

The macehead depicts a ruler wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt engaged in a ritual described by Clayton as either “opening the dykes ritually to begin the flooding of the fields…or…cutting the first furrow for the foundation of either a temple (at Hierakonpolis) or of a city”. Above the ruler there are a series of standards from which hang noosed lapwings, representing the common people who have been “overcome” by Scorpion.

Scorpion Macehead
Scorpion Macehead

On the Scorpion Macehead the glyph of a scorpion appears under a rosette. Smith proposed that the rosette was an early marker of royalty. However, Malek disputes this reading and doubts that the glyph in front of the king is his name, suggesting that it is an epithet of Narmer. Cialowicz has suggested that Scorpion was depicted wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt on the missing section of the macehead. If this is the case then he could be the first ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt (an accolade usually accorded to his successor Narmer). However, the reconstruction of Cialowicz is based on two very small fragments and Millet has questioned this conclusion.

Another fragmentary macehead (the minor mace head) from the main deposit of the Temple of Nekhen depicts a seated ruler wearing a Heb Sed robe and the red crown of Lower Egypt. Arkell has proposed that this ruler was Scorpion, but Adams noted that there was no sign of a rosette in front of the ruler where his name would be expected to be found. Midant-Reynes and Gautier have suggested that this fragment is actually part of the main Scorpion Macehead.

  • Adams, Barbara and Cialowicz, Krzysztof (1998) Protodynastic Egypt
  • Bard, Kathryn (2008) An introduction to the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt
  • Clayton, Peter A (1994) Chronicle of the Pharaohs
  • J.C. Darnell, et al (2002) Theban Desert Road Survey in the Egyptian Western Desert 1
  • Kemp, Barry J (1991) Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilisation
  • Wilkinson,Toby A H (1999) Early Dynastic Egypt
  • Wilkinson, Toby A H(2000) What a King Is This: Narmer and the Concept of the Ruler from The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology

Copyright J Hill 2020