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Scorpion
The Scorpion Macehead, Ashmolean Museum.
The Scorpion Macehead, Ashmolean Museum.
Pharaoh of Egypt
Reign Unknown,  Protodynastic
Predecessor Ka?
Successor Narmer?

Scorpion, also King Scorpion or Scorpion II refers to the second of two kings so-named of Upper Egypt during the Protodynastic Period. Their names may refer to the scorpion goddess Serket. The name of the queen who was his consort was Shesh I, the mother of Narmer and the grandmother of another queen, Shesh II.

The only pictorial evidence of his existence is the so-called Scorpion Macehead that was found in the Main deposit by archeologists James E. Quibell and Frederick W. Green in a temple at Nekhen (Hierakonpolis) during the dig season of 1897/1898.[1] It is currently on display at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. The stratigraphy of this macehead was lost due to the methods of its excavators, but its style seems to date it to the very end of the Predynastic Period.[2] Though badly damaged, the visible parts are extraordinary records from this early time in Egyptian history. He is believed to have lived just before or during the rule of Narmer at Thinis for this reason, and also because of the content of the macehead.

Contents

Scorpion Macehead

The Scorpion Macehead depicts a single large figure wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt. He holds a hoe, which has been interpreted as a ritual either involving the pharaoh ceremonially cutting the first furrow in the fields, or opening the dikes to flood them.[3] The name "Scorpion" is derived from the image of a scorpion that appears immediately in front of his face that may represent the scorpion goddess Serket, just below a flower with seven petals; the use and placement of the iconography is similar to the depiction of the pharaoh Narmer on the obverse side of the Narmer Palette. Protodynastic hieroglyphics are difficult to read, but the dead lapwings (meaning Lower Egyptians) and the nine bows (meaning the traditional enemies of Egyptians) found on the macehead are interpreted as evidence that he began the attacks on Lower Egypt which eventually resulted in Narmer's victory and unification of the country.[4] The lapwing was also used as a hieroglyph meaning "common people", so the standards they are attached to may represent the names of particular towns Scorpion conquered.[5]

A second, smaller mace head fragment is referred to as the Minor Scorpion mace head.[6] Little is left of this mace head, though it clearly depicts the pharaoh wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt.

Theories

There are several theories regarding his identity. Some would argue that, because Egyptian kings of the First Dynasty seem to have had multiple names,[7] Scorpion was the same person as Narmer, simply with an alternate name. Others have identified the king Scorpion with Narmer's predecessor, Ka (or Sekhen); Edwards in 1965 considered Ka's glyph, the outstretched arms of the ka sign, as simply a stylistically different version of a scorpion.[8] The historian Susan Wise Bauer maintains that Scorpion II and Narmer were indeed two separate kings, but that Scorpion II reigned in 3200 BC, a century before Narmer.[9] Because Scorpion II is not attested at Abydos, he could be a contemporary king to Narmer, who eventually lost or bequeathed Nekhen to Narmer.

A British television programme[10] proposed that the macehead was a tribute by Narmer to King Scorpion I (whose tomb at Abydos is known). According to this theory, there was only one protodynastic king Scorpion, rather than two as is commonly maintained.

In popular culture

See also

References

  1. ^ The Ancient Egypt Site - The Narmer Palette, accessed September 19, 2007.
  2. ^ Shaw, Ian; and Nicholson, Paul. The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. p. 254. The British Museum Press, 1995.
  3. ^ Clayton, Peter A. Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. 2006. ISBN 0-500-28628-0
  4. ^ Edwards, I.E.S., The Early Dynastic Period in Egypt. in The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 1, part 2, ed. Edwards, I.E.S, et al. p. 6. Cambridge University Press, 1965.
  5. ^ Clayton, Peter A. Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. 2006. ISBN 0-500-28628-0
  6. ^ F. J. Yurco, "Narmer: First King of Upper and Lower Egypt. A Reconsideration of his Palette and Macehead" in Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities, No. 25, 1995, Figure 1
  7. ^ David P. Silverman, David O'Connor, Ancient Egyptian Kingship, Brill 1995, p.9
  8. ^ Edwards, I.E.S., The Early Dynastic Period in Egypt. in The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 1, part 2, ed. Edwards, I.E.S, et al. p. 3. Cambridge University Press, 1965.
  9. ^ Susan Wise Bauer, The History Of The Ancient World (From The Earliest Accounts To The Fall Of Rome), W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., ch.4, pg.22-29
  10. ^ Channel 5 TV programme Secrets of Egypt 2/8 Scorpion King, 8pm to 9pm Thu 20 November 2008
Preceded by
Ka?
Pharaoh of Egypt
Protodynastic
Succeeded by
Narmer?

Simple English

Scorpion
The Scorpion Macehead, Ashmolean Museum.
Pharaoh of Egypt
Reign Unknown,  Protodynastic
Predecessor Ka?
Successor Narmer?

Scorpion, also King Scorpion or Scorpion II refers to the second of two kings so-named of Upper Egypt during the Protodynastic Period.

In popular culture

  • Scorpion's name was borrowed for the 2002 film The Scorpion King.
  • William Golding's novel The Scorpion God is loosely based upon this period of Egyptian History.
  • A villain named Scorpion claims lineage with the king in the 1997 film Legend of the Lost Tomb.


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