About the Narmer Catalog

The Narmer Catalog is designed to facilitate research and understanding of Narmer, the first king of Ancient Egypt, and also every known or proposed regional king in Dynasty 0 who preceded him.

It presents all contemporary written archaeological evidence directly related to these kings, as well as posthumous inscriptions that include the name of a king from this period; and makes it readily accessible to researchers and interested members of the public.

Background

The first version of the Narmer Catalog database was created while researching and drafting the article, "Who was Menes?", which was published in 2014 in Archéo-Nil and is available on this website. In its first iteration, The Narmer Catalog expanded upon the Database of Early Dynastic Inscriptions compiled by Ilona Regulski. This Database was partially based on Kahl 1994, who himself relied, to a great extent, on Kaplony 1963 and 1964. The scope of the Narmer Catalog was later widened to include Narmer’s regional predecessors, including Iry-Hor, Ka, and Scorpion II, as well as all other plausibly proposed Dynasty 0 royals; the new version of the Catalog now contains 251 entries.

The philosophy of the Catalog is to include any inscription that has ever been identified as showing Narmer and/or his predecessors’ names or dating to their reigns, even when the designation seems doubtful or, in some cases, has been disproved. We consider them all part of the historical discussion. Users of the Narmer Catalog will be able to see images of a disputed inscription, references, and explanatory comments about the inscription. In this way, they can reach their own conclusion.

Inscription Details

The information for each record in the Catalog includes:

  • Catalog No. – The Catalog Numbers are drawn from the Regulski Database, which in turn correspond to the Source Numbers used by Kahl 1994. Kahl ends his list of inscriptions with number 3859. Regulski begins her additions with source number 4000. To avoid overlap with both, new additions utilize numbers starting with 5001 for all rulers except Narmer; for the reign of Narmer, new entries begin with 6001. The Narmer Boxes, 6101, 6102 and 6103, are treated as only three inscriptions, even though each “inscription” includes multiple fragments.
  • Date (Period) – This field designates either the period in terms of Hendrickx’s dating system (Hendrickx 1996), e.g. Naqada IIIB or the dynasty, e.g., “Dyn. 1”.
  • Date (King) – This field indicates whether the object dates from the origin of a particular king.
    • If, for example, “Narmer” is shown, the inscription includes a complete or partial reading of the king’s name.
    • If “(Narmer)” (with parentheses) is shown, it means that the inscription has been definitely ascribed to the reign of Narmer but does not include the royal name.
    • If “Narmer(?)” (with a question mark) is shown, it means that it has been attributed to Narmer on the basis of the royal name, but that the attribution/reading is controversial and/or questionable.
    • If “(Narmer?)” (with parentheses and a question mark) is shown, it means that the inscription has been ascribed to the reign of Narmer without the presence of the royal name, and that the attribution is controversial and/or questionable.
    • Please note that if you search for “Narmer”, you will get all inscriptions that include the word “Narmer” in the Date (King) field, not just “Narmer” but also “Narmer (?)” and “(Narmer)”.
    • Other royal names are treated in the same way as Narmer.
  • Dated by – The method by which the date has been determined.
  • Type – The category of object that bears this inscription.
  • Method of inscription – Whether the inscription was incised, impressed, inked, relief, or unknown. Incised and inked most often refer to vessels, while impressed applies to the impressions made by cylinder seals, and relief corresponds to objects that bear raised or low relief decoration.
  • Material – The medium on which the inscription appears. Inscriptions on stone are divided into different types of stone, which you can search for specifically, i.e. “Stone (limestone)”. If you search for “Stone” you will get all types of stone.
    • NB: According to Aston et al. (2000: 59), the stone which is here described as alabaster or calcite, following modern conventional terminology, is more accurately described as travertine.
  • Region – General area where the object was discovered.
  • Site – Specific location in the region where the object was discovered.
  • Locality – Specific place within the site where the object was discovered (often a tomb designation).
  • Depository – Current location of the object. Whenever multiple impressions of the same seal have been divided between different museums, each museum is listed.
  • Registration No. – Unique number assigned to an object by a museum, current owner or custodian. Whenever multiple seal impressions of the same seal have been divided between different museums, the Registration Numbers are all listed within a single Catalog Number.
  • Dimensions – Where possible, the dimensions of the physical object in the format: “# cm H, # cm L, # cm W” (object); or “# cm H, # cm diam. (object)” In the case of seals with multiple impressions, we have chosen one example. When the dimensions of the physical object are not available, the dimensions of the inscription are provided in the format: “# cm H, # cm L, # cm W (inscription)”.
  • References – To the greatest extent possible, we listed every relevant source in English, German, French, and Spanish. References include the page numbers of relevant discussions along with the figure or plate number of relevant illustrations. Plate numbers are shown in the format in which they were published, e.g., where they were originally shown as Roman numerals, they are shown here the same way. The authors who used this convention are Amelineau, Emery, Kaplony (1964, 1965a, 1965b), Petrie, Quibell, and Winkler.
    • NB: Several major references, namely Kaplony 1963 and 1964, Kaiser and Dreyer 1982, Kahl 1994, van den Brink 1996 and 2001, Jiménez-Serrano 2003 and 2007, Pätznick 2009, and Regulski 2010, each discuss a substantial number of inscriptions. These works are not cited in the individual inscription records except when they are referred to in the Comment Section with regard to a controversy about the inscription.
  • Comments – Discussion of various aspect of the object, such as its history, publication, and current location. The emphasis in the Comments is on questions and issues that have been controversial.
  • Illustrations – Drawings and photographs, which can be viewed at full resolution, downloaded by clicking on an image.

When conducting a search, each matching catalog entry you select will have the following buttons at the top of the page:

  • Previous takes you to the previous entry in the list.
  • Next takes you to the next entry in the list.
  • Return to List takes you back to the list your search criteria generated.
  • Edit Search takes you back to the search screen with your criteria preserved for editing.
  • New Search takes you back to the "Catalog" page but clears all previous search criteria.
  • Copy Link creates a copy of the URL of the current Catalog inscription page.
  • Download PDF creates a PDF file of the current Catalog inscription page.

Acknowledgements

This project would not have been possible without the kind permission of Ilona Regulski to use the Database of Early Dynastic Inscriptions as the foundation of the Narmer Catalog. Elise MacArthur designed the database, assisted by Jason Mundok. She also translated articles and was my chief research assistant. Rozenn Bailleul-LeSuer, Brendan Hainline, Oren Siegel, Tilmann Kunze, Gunnar Sperveslage, and Sasha Rohert acted as research assistants and translators. Renée Friedman provided encouragement and numerous comments. Stan Hendrickx provided the Narmer Palette Bibliography. His Analytic Bibliography of the Prehistory and the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt and Northern Sudan (1995) and the annual updates in Archéo-Nil were invaluable in finding references. The Catalog was first suggested to me by Günter Dreyer, who had also provided numerous comments. Additional helpful comments were received from Edwin van den Brink, Jean-Pierre Pätznick, and Lisa Mawdsley.

— Thomas C. Heagy