Between 1897 and 1898 two British archeologists, James E. Quibell and Frederick W. Green, discovered an ancient make-up palette in the Temple of Horus while excavating Hierakonpolis, the ancient capital of Upper Egypt. This artifact came to be known as the Narmer Palette, or the Great Hierakonpolis Palette and dates back to the beginnings of the Old Kingdom, 31st century BC. The Narmer Palette was believed to be the first example of hieroglyphs to be discovered.
It is thought to be a ritual or votive object given to the temple as a donation and used to grind cosmetics to adorn the statues of the gods there. It is also believed that the palette shows the unification of Egypt under king Narmer. On both sides it shows the King with a crown. On one side he wears a crown of upper Egypt and on the alternating side he wears the crown of lower Egypt. The palette is the earliest example of a depiction of a King of Egypt to be found. King Narmer is believed to be the last of the Predynastic Kings of Egypt and may have been known as King Menes who was the first king of a united Egypt and the first dynastic king. The Egyptologist Bob Brier stated that the Narmer Palette may be ”the first historical document in the world”. The Narmer Palette is a 63-centimetre tall (2.07 ft) and carved from a single piece of flat, soft dark grey-green siltstone. This material was used extensively during the pre-dynastic period for make-up palettes and for creating statues in the Old Kingdom.
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