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The earliest representations of royal

power in Egypt: the rock drawings
of Nag el-Hamdulab (Aswan)
Stan Hendrickx1 , John Coleman Darnell2 & Maria Carmela Gatto2
The vivid engravings on vertical rocks at the
desert site of Nag el-Hamdulab west of the
Nile comprise a rock art gallery of exceptional
historical significance. The authors show that
the images of boats with attendant prisoners,
animals and the earliest representation of a
pharaoh offer a window on Dynasty 0, and
depict the moment that the religious procession
of pre-Dynastic Egypt became the triumphant
tour of a tax-collecting monarch.

Keywords: Egypt, pre-Dynastic, 3000 BC, boats, nautical procession, pharaonic kingship,
rock art

Introduction
Sometime during the early 1890s, Archibald H. Sayce (1845–1933) made a sketch copy of a
rock drawing at Gharb Aswan (Upper Egypt) that was subsequently included in a catalogue
of inscriptions between Aswan and Kom Ombo published by de Morgan et al. (1894:
203) (Figure 1). At that moment, hardly anything was known about the earliest history of
Egypt, and the Early Dynastic royal necropolis at Abydos would only be discovered a few
years later. Famous documents such as the Narmer palette or the Scorpion mace head, both
found at Hierakonpolis in 1898, had not yet been excavated. Consequently, Sayce had no
documentation at his disposal that would have allowed him to recognise the early date of
the scene, and he may not even have been aware that what he had copied was actually a very
early royal representation. The brief description and rudimentary drawing of but a portion
1
2

Media, Arts & Design Faculty, Elfde Liniestraat 25, Hasselt, B-3118, Belgium (Author for correspondence,
email: s.hendrickx@pandora.be)
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Yale University, P.O. Box 208236, New Haven, CT
06520–8236, USA (Email: john.darnell@yale.edu; maria.gatto@yale.edu)

C Antiquity Publications Ltd. 

ANTIQUITY 86 (2012): 1068–1083

http://antiquity.ac.uk/ant/086/ant0861068.htm

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while working in the local ancient quarries. said to be from near Aswan (Hendrickx et al. . Documentation by A. presented here for the first time. More recently.Research Stan Hendrickx. the QuarryScapes project encountered some of those drawings (Storemyr 2009). in 2008. several inscription areas at the site have been heavily damaged during the last decades. Maria C. most of them consisting of more than one tableau. 2009b). but was rather an excerpt from one of a number of scenes located at short distances from each other.H. 1894: 203). seven sites. and a search of his archive kept at Chicago House in Luxor at the end of 2009 revealed a series of related photographs. made in the 1890s (de Morgan et al. about 6km north of Aswan (Figure 3). Important portions of the lost or damaged tableaux—but unfortunately not all of the lost and damaged elements—may be reconstructed on the basis of photographic documentation from the Labib Habachi C  1069 Antiquity Publications Ltd. At present. of the overall imagery at the site remained unnoticed for over a century until. thereby revealing that Sayce’s imperfect hand copy did not concern a single rock art scene. are known at short distances from each other (Figure 4). The ensemble of the site. Unfortunately. on the west bank of the Nile. Nabil Swelim made available to one of the authors a photograph of a rock drawing (Figure 2). makes up the most important iconographic source for the period of state formation in Egypt. John Coleman Darnell & Maria Carmela Gatto Figure 1. The photograph came from the unpublished documentation of the late Labib Habachi (1906–1984. Gatto had rediscovered the site itself (Hendrickx & Gatto 2009). see Kamil 2007). The rediscovered and newly discovered rock art sites that form the Nag el-Hamdulab ensemble are located on the rocks confining a sandy plain west of the village of Nag el-Hamdulab. Meanwhile. Sayce of Nag el-Hamdulab site 7.

8cm). Chicago House. with permission of the Epigraphic Survey. Oriental Institute. Archival photograph of the royal scene at Nag el-Hamdulab site 7 (Labib Habachi Photographic Archives. Luxor. C  Antiquity Publications Ltd.The earliest representations of royal power in Egypt Figure 2. University of Chicago) (height of the king: 29. 1070 .

warfare. John Coleman Darnell & Maria Carmela Gatto Figure 3. Chronology The rock inscriptions at Nag el-Hamdulab comprise a series of discrete vignettes that represent elements of an overall cycle of images involving hunting. . and the regalia of political authority.Research Stan Hendrickx. All representations are pecked with a pointed implement. C  1071 Antiquity Publications Ltd. Archive. Location of the Nag el-Hamdulab rock art sites (NH8 is an undecorated rockshelter). Stylistic and technical peculiarities suggest that all the main tableaux with human figures are the work of only one or two hands. 3 and 5 (photograph: Daniel Libens). sunken surface (Figure 2). An anonymous king wearing the White Crown appears in three tableaux and defines the context for all the discrete portions of the overall site. Figure 4. the contour lines of the individual representations are clearly delineated but a number of them were more elaborately worked by pecking the interior surface to achieve a flat. Location of sites 2. nautical festival events.

Before discussing individual tableaux. the tip of the White Crown points straight upward at Nag el-Hamdulab. At Nag el-Hamdulab the king is preceded by two standard-bearers and followed by a fan-bearer. Details from the Scorpion mace head and the Narmer palette. a consideration of the chronological position of the Nag el-Hamdulab rock art is fundamental for understanding the ensemble. four standard-bearers are present. the king is preceded by two standard-bearers and followed by two fan-bearers. The dog accompanying the king appears to represent a late occurrence of the canid as a symbol of human organisation and the domination of chaotic forces (Hendrickx 2006. Boats with high prows. The Scorpion mace head slightly predates the Narmer monuments and starting from the Nag el-Hamdulab scenes. while that on the Scorpion mace head tilts slightly towards the back.3631). in press). a striking increase in size difference between the king and his retinue can be observed. On the Scorpion mace head. but without the ‘clubbed’ ends. the Narmer mace head (Oxford AM E. although the prows and sterns of Nag el-Hamdulab boats turn up higher. This accords with the development of the representation of Dynastic Egyptian conventions. Furthermore. 3600–3300 BC.3632). 32169) (here Figure 5). On the Narmer palette. The doubling of the fan and standard-bearers confirms that the Nag el-Hamdulab tableaux occupy a chronological position before the Scorpion mace head. and has already received some discussion (Hendrickx & Gatto 2009. On the Narmer palette. two fan-bearers stand beside the high podium on which the king sits enthroned. the latter dating to the Naqada IIC-D period. occur during the late pre-Dynastic and Early Dynastic period (Huyge 2002: 198). Hendrickx et al. compare also Darnell 2011: 1166–69). and speaks for an earlier date for the Hamdulab tableaux C  Antiquity Publications Ltd. On the Narmer mace head. c. and the Nag el-Hamdulab boats seem to be at an intermediate position. Boats form a characteristic element of the Nag el-Hamdulab tableaux and nearly all of them are of the so-called ‘sickle shaped’ type with ‘clubbed’ ends (Figures 6–9). and the Narmer palette (Cairo JdE. the crown is still slightly further tilted and worn in the oblique position that will be standard throughout the rest of Egyptian history. the representations of the standard and fan-bearers provide relevant information. The royal scene at site 7 (Figure 2) shows several similarities to the Scorpion mace head (Oxford AM E.The earliest representations of royal power in Egypt Figure 5. while four standard-bearers advance towards the king. 1072 . although the fan-bearers are lacking. Finally. already occurring frequently in rock art and on pre-Dynastic ‘Decorated’ pottery (Graff 2009: 171).

this could indicate that the artist(s) were normally working on other media. where the artists generally start from the centre of the available surface. Several times. following their order from north to south. forming a highly visible orientation point at the intersection between the Wadi el-Faras and the Nag el-Hamdulab bay. placing the ensemble at a highly important moment in the process of state formation in Egypt. This fits very well with scribal practice—writing on for example papyrus—and indicates that the artist(s) at Nag el-Hamdulab were professionals. on which they started working from the right edge. Site 1. For the Nag el-Hamdulab scenes. at this very early moment in Egyptian history they must have been directly related to the royal court. almost as a ‘boundary stone’ (Figure 4). the drawings begin at the right-hand edge of the rock edges. The form of the boat and the important parallels between the Nag el-Hamdulab tableaux and the Scorpion and Narmer documents suggest that a late Dynasty 0 date. .’ rather than the consequence of artists adding scene upon scene over time. The scenes The uniformity in style and the interrelations between the sites and tableaux suggest that the Nag el-Hamdulab cycle of images is the result of a premeditated ‘grand scheme. is most probable for the Nag el-Hamdulab tableaux. apparently they were accustomed to rectangular surfaces. c. Such organisation is exceptional for rock art.Research Stan Hendrickx. vertical faces. 3200–3100 BC. once with the representation of a prostrate. during the period of transition between pre-Dynastic iconography and Dynastic imagery because the dog no longer occurs in this context on the Scorpion mace head or the Narmer monuments. even when plenty of space is available to the left. Site 1 is located on a protruding rock. A boat dominates each of the two tableaux at this site. feather-wearing man—prisoner or allied foreigner— and once with three prisoners following the boat (Figure 6). 165cm). Another important observation is that the artist(s) preferred rock surfaces with straight. tableau 1b (W. John Coleman Darnell & Maria Carmela Gatto Figure 6. The present article summarises the most important tableaux. The identification of the latter C  1073 Antiquity Publications Ltd. All of the tableaux are to be considered in the same context and are elements of the conceptualisation of the Nag el-Hamdulab landscape.

C  Antiquity Publications Ltd. tableau 2c (W. tableau 2a (W. Site 2. 142cm). Figure 8.The earliest representations of royal power in Egypt Figure 7. Site 2. 156cm). 1074 .

C  1075 Antiquity Publications Ltd. . Site 3. which are the main elements of the nautical procession that is essential for the interpretation of the Nag el-Hamdulab scenes (compare boats that convey symbolic. Hendrickx & Eyckerman 2010). Although this combination may not seem logical. Oriental Institute. a motif appearing beyond doubt on the Gebel Sheikh Suleiman relief (Murnane in Williams & Logan 1987: 282–84). The figure represents a prisoner attached to the boat. tableau 3c (Labib Habachi Photographic Archives. while the arm behind the back is bent at a suitable angle. Luxor.24069) showing a prisoner to the right of the boat with a lion(?) (the man does not greet the vessel.Research Stan Hendrickx. and all of the groups are highly symbolic. Especially relevant is the scene on the Qustul Incense Burner (Chicago OIM. Chicago House. with permission of the Epigraphic Survey. The scenes from site 1 introduce two essential elements of the decoration scheme at Nag el-Hamdulab—boats and military domination. information in rock art and on ‘Decorated Ware’ ceramics—Huyge 2002. none of the tableaux shows a narrative. as prisoners is not straightforward but results from comparison with other late pre-Dynastic and Early Dynastic documents on which prisoners are systematically identified by having their arms bound behind the back. Visually. and gently curved in a manner most unlikely for a real appendage. rather than narrative. Hendrickx & Eyckerman 2010: 131). often being tied by a rope at their neck as well. a ‘triangle’ or a curved line behind their back indicates the pinioned arms. with no indication of arms in front of the prisoner’s chest. What might appear as a ‘raised arm’ is thinner than the arm behind the back. The idea of power receives expression not solely or even primarily through human representations but through the images of boats. University of Chicago/modified by Alberto Urcia). Graff 2009. John Coleman Darnell & Maria Carmela Gatto Figure 9.

and the bow is an element of power in itself. the king now clearly appears as an actual ruler. where it carries a shrine. the religious context being of but secondary importance. probably wild animals. 1076 . In two scenes. Figure 11). the frontier of which was at the First Cataract. The second important tableau of site 2 consists of two boats. although their precise meaning—presumably religious and/or political—remains unclear. This second type of boat occurs only once more at Nag el-Hamdulab. and on a larger scale. the Nag el-Hamdulab cycle introduces the king as a religious concept rather than as a representation of actual military or political power. or another area immediately to the south thereof. C  Antiquity Publications Ltd. This provides a strong indication that the scene depicts a prisoner with his arms bound behind his back and attached by a rope to the bow. is a person apparently identified as a Nubian by a particular type of bow depicted in front of him.The earliest representations of royal power in Egypt Sites 2 to 5 are located very close to each other. Recent research has shown an important presence of Nubians in the Aswan region during pre-Dynastic times (Gatto 2011) and the Nubian in the Hamdulab tableau may represent a chieftain or military commander of the Nubian denizens of the Hamdulab region. immediately south of Nag el-Hamdulab. regularly appearing without human presence. The first of the two main tableaux at site 2 shows bowmen and prisoners next to a boat that has a figure on top of each of its two cabins (Figure 7). no. A close parallel occurs on a fragmentary knife handle from cemetery U at Abydos (Dreyer 1999: fig. In front of the ruler is a standard with Wepwaout. very low cabin on which stands a king wearing the White Crown. Between the two bowmen behind the boat is a smaller person with one arm bent behind the back and the other upturned before the chest. from whose neck hangs a type of weight (Spencer 1980: 79–80. The best parallel is a prisoner on the recto of the Battlefield Palette. The most important tableaux from site 3 have been destroyed and are only (incompletely) known through archival photographs. indicating that the group concerns sacrificial animals—the ceremony central to the Nag el-Hamdulab cycle is now placed in the context of meat offering. Nubia was known as the ‘Land of the Bow’. the king appeared in a ceremonial procession with his retinue. in contrast to most of the other Nag el-Hamdulab boats. At site 2 the military theme is integrated into a socio-religious context. both of which are very narrow. Behind this is the image of a large knife. indications already of the importance of the scene. in a manner unlike any other representation at Nag el-Hamdulab. The lower boat is of the regular ‘sickle shaped’ type but has as a remarkable element. Next to this. The upper boat has a very high prow and stern. The only preserved tableau of site 3 shows a man leading a (wild?) bull and calf. The site 4 tableau is a small but very direct and therefore important addition in which the actual feast on occasion of the festival is referenced through the representation of brewing. But despite this symbolic element. ‘Opener of the Ways’. and may represent the occupants of the cabins. a canid god related to warfare and hunting. In front of the boat is a single person standing behind a very large bow. Both boats have many oars and an oarsman on the stern. forming a link to the other sites. indicating that a divine boat is intended (see below. and a single. including a number of prisoners. Therefore. A boat appears in one of the tableaux (Figure 9). a bull standard. and a person sitting and drinking. Both of these figures on the cabins hold a stick or staff. one roughly above the other (Figure 8). 10b). on the cliffs at the centre of the Nag el-Hamdulab plain (Figure 4). 576). on its prow.

Two possible interpretations of the scene present themselves. The tableau consists of a bull’s head and a female dancer. and the proper understanding of the group hinges on the wild or domesticated nature of the animals represented. The small tableau is heavily damaged by more recent drawings and inscriptions which are. music and dance is known from the early Old Kingdom onwards through the Ladies of the Acacia House (Hendrickx et al. Graves-Brown 2010: 93). 2009a: 212–14). relatively close to the alluvial plain. Site 6 is located on an isolated hill at the southern end of the Nag el-Hamdulab sandy bay. . Graff et al. no part of the recent vandalism. however.Research Stan Hendrickx. The theme of catching and bringing up wild animals is most important for pre-Dynastic times (Hendrickx 2010. butchering. This ritual context combines well with the reference to the actual feast at site 4. John Coleman Darnell & Maria Carmela Gatto Figure 10. The latter can easily be identified by the long hair braid ending in an oval shape that represents one of the rounded weights (discs or balls?) attached to the braided hair of female dancers during the Old Kingdom (e. Site 5 is located left of the entrance of the only rockshelter present at Nag el-Hamdulab. Site 6 (W. 2011). and comprises only one tableau. Although archaeozoological studies show that hunting was only of marginal economic importance during pre-Dynastic times (Linseele & Van Neer C  1077 Antiquity Publications Ltd. 139cm). The combination of a bull’s head and a female dancer is not as strange as it may seem at first view because the combination of hunting. consisting of three registers showing cattle controlled by humans and dogs (Figure 10).g.

1078 . Site 7. tableau 7a (W. Site 7.The earliest representations of royal power in Egypt Figure 11. 290cm). 122cm). C  Antiquity Publications Ltd. tableau 7b (W. Figure 12.

Alternatively. The first tableau is the largest at Nag el-Hamdulab. The fifth boat is placed rather awkwardly at the bottom of the tableau. The first of these is visible with some difficulty from a distance and is not really in a ‘hidden’ position. the men most likely represent people towing the boat. cattle-herding groups (for a Nubian presence in the First Cataract area and beyond see Gatto 2006. a theme that occurs regularly in rock art. The reality of such an event is confirmed by a small tableau to the left of the one under discussion. The scene is organised around five boats. 2011). and is already for that reason of primary importance. beneath the ‘royal boat’. Although the rope does not touch the boat. among which two are particularly large. their arms beside their bodies. The whole of the tableau allows an exceptional view on the idea of a boat procession. Research Stan Hendrickx. but the prow is narrow and makes a hook while the stern ends in a straight top line. perhaps the economic basis for the power of the subjugated and/or allied Nubian ruler appearing in a scene at site 1. In front of the ‘royal boat’ are four bearded persons. situated above the only boat with an elaborately decorated cabin. transforming the vessel into a ‘divine boat’ and placing the tableau in a religious context. the beast (for canids doing both in a single tableau. probably Nubian. Despite the size and the importance of the boats.2009). see Darnell 2011: 1166–69). the focal element of the tableau is the representation of a ruler. The boats and the king with his retinue face towards Elephantine. The prow and stern are not broad and rounded. while the fifth is placed at a higher position (Figure 11). Both the falcon and the bull are royal symbols. holding a horizontal line representing a rope. identical to the false doors on Old Kingdom funerary monuments. 2009) allowed the upper echelons of society to show their importance in real life. Site 7. in which a small boat appears below a long row of small vertical lines—approximately 56—that may represent an aid to counting strokes. four of which are grouped in a row. Linseele et al. and slaughtering wild animals on the occasion of religious festivals or elite burials (Friedman 2008. Hunting was part of the elite lifestyle. while three of the boats have a standard with bull horns. a falcon standard can be seen. The ritual event is under the direct supervision of the king and his retinue and the general idea is that of a display of royal power in the religious context of a boat procession. perhaps—given the site’s importance during the Early Dynastic period as border town controlling the First Cataract— the ultimate destination of the procession. The boat has only a single domed or vaulted cabin. the decoration of which represents a door with the rolled up door curtain. 2009. the site consists of four tableaux. the animals may represent the wealth of local. Located south of the Nag el-Hamdulab sandy bay. Four of the five boats are of the regular ‘sickle shaped’ type. hunting scenes are nevertheless an important element of pre-Dynastic iconography. not by coincidence below the king. followed by a fan-bearer and preceded by a dog and two standard-bearers. already seen by Sayce at the end of the nineteenth century. but rather symbolically dominating. emphasising the royal character of the boats. On the most elaborately drawn. The king wears the White Crown and holds a long prototypical heqa-sceptre. the dog atop the back of the uppermost bovid is not attacking. confirmed through visual representations which contributed to the establishment of hierarchic structures and ultimately state formation (Hendrickx 2010). slanting slightly upwards to the right. is the most important in size and can be considered the culmination of the concept behind the Nag el-Hamdulab cycle. in a narrow gulch in the rock cliff. An important number of parallel representations indicate that the cabin represents a shrine. unlike the second large tableau that can only be seen from inside the bay. In the latter case. John Coleman Darnell & Maria Carmela Gatto . C  1079 Antiquity Publications Ltd.

making an elongated ‘S’ above their back. Palaeographically of Early Dynastic date. referring eventually also to regeneration. the triumph of order over chaos on a cosmic level. but also by a small—and unfortunately poorly preserved—hunting scene close to the royal boat procession. Wilkinson 1999: 220–21). 1080 . the biennial judicial and tax-collecting perambulation of the royal court as demonstration of royal authority. which is the only animal in the group that faces in the same direction as the king in the other tableau. Starting in the lower left corner are two ostriches close to each other with a large ibex above them. the orientation is of primary importance. one above the other. Furthermore. into the gulch. eyes or nose. the uppermost of which is shorter and parallel with a similar line formed by the backline of the animal. human assurance of control. The link between site 7 and those previously described is not only made by the royal image. the boats. the annotation refers to a ‘nautical following’ and appears to label the imagery—and apparently the entirety of the Nag el-Hamdulab cycle—as ultimately related to the royal and ritual event known as the ‘Following of Horus’. The hieroglyphs are fully pecked in the style of the images of the tableaux. and are certainly elements of the tableau. After this comes another flat surface. Concluding remarks The combination of a boat procession. which consists of six animals. Continuing from the first tableau at site 7 into the bay. there is no indication at all of mouth. a well-known aspect of late preDynastic iconography (Huyge 2004). The two peculiar animals to the right have bodies that look rather like those of dogs or lions but their ‘heads’ bear no comparison to that of any known animal. The ultimate meaning of the tableau is the royal. ‘mythological’ animal. contrary to the orientation of the first tableau. The images appear to depict a non-existent. and the general theme of order over chaos fits very well with the concept of the ‘Greater Pharaonic Cycle’ as defined by Williams and Logan (1987). next to which are two enigmatic animals. the ibex and ostriches are chaotic elements as confirmed by the two mythological animals that represent even more explicit aspects of chaos. and the concept of ritual processions. Furthermore. especially when considering that the theme of military victory occurs at other Nag el-Hamdulab rock art sites. The animals (with the exception of the bull) face into the gulch. bearing the second large tableau (Figure 12). solar symbolism. these occur at the end of the gulch. here further related to a toponym that unfortunately cannot be located (cf. Each ‘head’ consists of five or six lines. In the Hamdulab cycle also appears C  Antiquity Publications Ltd.The earliest representations of royal power in Egypt The final element of the first tableau at site 7 is a four-sign hieroglyphic inscription immediately behind the stern of the uppermost boat and above the prow of the final vessel (Figure 11). possess the same degree of patination. As desert animals. hunting. Already the mere presence of these animals indicates that symbolism plays an important role for interpreting the tableau. The animals face to the right. this allows one to consider the animal as a parallel for the king in tableau 1a (not illustrated) and as ‘dominating’ the animals around it. the animals have extremely long tails. which as the most remote/hidden location also refers to chaos. to the right of the ostriches is a large bull. As the bull is a royal symbol. Also. to which an Eighteenth Dynasty text was added afterwards. the rock surface slopes backwards and exhibits too many irregularities for decoration. with the exception of the bull.

The Wadi of the Horus Qa-a: a tableau of royal ritual power in the Theban Western Desert. an apparent visual reference to royal domination of potentially chaotic humans. Hannah Joris and Merel Eyckerman for the drawings. parallel to hunting as the ordering of the potentially chaotic.) Egypt at its origins 3. The Nag el-Hamdulab cycle is also the first complex iconographic composition with accompanying hieroglyphic annotation. London. the presence of the physical king presiding over the events takes precedence over symbolism alluding to royalty. Luxor. in R. beginning with the Nag el-Hamdulab cycle. and the last of the large. and Daniel Libens for the photography.F.the image of a prostrate man with a feather. References DARNELL. Antonio Curci and Alberto Urcia for the digital documentation. Whereas earlier the concept of kingship was an important element. Acknowledgements We thank W. arms stretched before him. iconographic syntax and the tableaux of royal ritual power in the pre. a ritual manifestation of the more bellicose and physical expression of the same domination of human disorder appearing elsewhere at Hamdulab in the scene of two bowmen with a prisoner between them. and permission to publish Figures 2 and 9.and proto-Dynastic rock inscriptions of the Theban Western Desert. the biennial progress of the royal court on a perambulating judicial and tax-collecting visit to demonstrate royal authority throughout the land. nautical Jubilee cycles of the Naqada II period. J. Stefano Caruso. 2009. 27 July–1 August 2008 (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 205): 1151–93.N. The Nag el-Hamdulab cycle is the earliest group of complex images of religious activity incorporating the king wearing a recognisable crown of pharaonic regalia. Johnson for access to the Labib Habachi archive in Chicago House. The Nag el-Hamdulab cycle may be said to show the emergence of the ruler as supreme human priest and incarnate manifestation of human and divine power. Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt’. John Coleman Darnell & Maria Carmela Gatto . Iconographic attraction.R.C. Giandaniele Castangia. and may therefore be the earliest record of tax collection we have from Egypt. The Nag el-Hamdulab cycle is unique and bridges the iconographic worlds of the preDynastic and Dynastic Jubilee images. it is a hybrid of the two. C  1081 Antiquity Publications Ltd. natural world. and assign particular symbolism and meaning to each tableau of the greater cycle. just as the Hamdulab tableaux appear to separate certain events. Friedman & P. divided into registers. – 2011. a fluid blending of the events. or represent individual vignettes from the cycle (Darnell 2009). Fiske (ed. The theme of military domination of human chaos. The Nag el-Hamdulab scenes stress the nautical aspect. Research Stan Hendrickx. Proceedings of the International Conference ‘Origin of the State. Leuven: Peeters. Whereas pre-Dynastic scenes are either one long illustration. but divide the event into distinct sequences. Arch´eo-Nil 19: 83–107. the pre-Dynastic focus of the event. is very much part of the overall scheme of the Hamdulab imagery. That text refers to the ‘Nautical Following (of Horus)’. Special thanks to Morgan De Dapper and Ilka Klose for the geomorphological study. and the first expression of royal economic control over Egypt and most probably also Nubia. the Dynastic scenes—from Narmer forward— are more often broken up by the key events. We want to thank Tina Di Cerbo for her help in accessing the Habachi Archive.

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