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Rethinking 'cattle cults' in early Egypt: Towards a prehistoric perspective on the Narmer Palette

Wengrow, D; (2001) Rethinking 'cattle cults' in early Egypt: Towards a prehistoric perspective on the Narmer Palette. CAMB ARCHAEOL J , 11 (1) 91 - 104. 10.1017/S0959774301000051. Green open access

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Abstract

The Narmer Palette occupies a key position in our understanding of the transition from Predynastic to Dynastic culture in Egypt. Previous interpretations have focused largely upon correspondences between its decorative content and later conventions of elite display. Here, the decoration of the palette is instead related to its form and functional attributes and their derivation from the Neolithic cultures of the Nile Valley, which are contrasted with those of southwest Asia and Europe. It is argued that the widespread adoption of a pastoral lifestyle during the fifth millennium BC was associated with new modes of bodily display and ritual, into which cattle and other animals were incorporated. These constituted an archive of cultural forms and practices which the makers of the Narmer Palette, and other Protodynastic monuments, drew form and transformed. Taking cattle as focus, the article begins with a consideration of interpretative problems relating to animal art and ritual in archaeology, and stresses the value of perspectives derived from the anthropology of pastoral societies.

Type: Article
Title: Rethinking 'cattle cults' in early Egypt: Towards a prehistoric perspective on the Narmer Palette
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S0959774301000051
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0959774301000051
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2001
Keywords: Narmer Palette, cattle cults, Egyptian cattle cults
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/71651
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