The ritual mace head of 'Scorpion' is one of the rare artefacts to have survived from this king's reign. It is a rounded piece of limestone, shaped like the head of a mace of 25 cm. high. Its dimensions and the fact that it is decorated both show that it was intended as a ritual artefact and not as a real mace head.

The mace head was found by archaeologists Quibell and Green during their expedition of 1897/98 in the main deposit at Hierakonpolis. This main deposit also contained other artefacts from the Pre-dynastic and Early Dynastic Periods, among them a long narrow vase also showing the name of king 'Scorpion', as well as, perhaps, the Narmer Palette. It is now on display at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

The decoration on the highly fragmentary mace head is interesting and has been an important part of the debate surrounding the supposed unification of Egypt.

The beautifully sculpted central figure is king 'Scorpion', identified by the floral element and the scorpion in front of him. He wears the White Crown, usually associated with Upper-Egypt, a simple skirt and an animal's tail extending from the back of the skirt. He holds a hoe in his hands, ready to cut open the ground. Before him stands a man, facing the king and pouring sand on the ground. This type of scene is known throughout the Pharaonic history: it shows the king while preparing the foundations of some kind of building. Below the king, a strip of water is represented, which could indicate that 'Scorpion' is laying the foundations of a dam or dike. There is no indication where such a dam may have been constructed.

Behind the king, two men are shown bearing large fans to protect the king from the heat, and behind them, two registers of plants are shown. On the lowest register, the plants are followed by some women clapping their hands and dancing. The level above represents a seated person.

Before the king at least two men were standing carrying a standard pole, representing the monarchy or the territories belonging to that monarchy.

Above the entire scene, at least seven standards are shown. On each of them, a bird, perhaps representing the word "people", is hanged by the neck. These standards are often interpreted as a representation of the territories and the peoples conquered by 'Scorpion', showing that 'Scorpion' was a warrior-king.

narmer_mace_reconstr.gif (39262 bytes)

It has sometimes been suggested that the king might have been represented wearing the Red Crown, normally associated with Lower-Egypt, on the missing part of the mace head. A tentative reconstruction made by Krzysztof M. Cialowicz shows the king indeed wearing the Red Crown (see drawing above: the lighter part is reconstruction). This reconstruction is based on the assumption that a large figure was standing facing the two standard bearers to the right of 'Scorpion's name. A small part of a foot and an even smaller part of a leg of such a figure may perhaps be recognised on the remaining parts of the mace. Because of the size of this figure, it must have represented the king. Two other, very small fragments each contain two leaves of a floral element and a small stroke to the right. In his reconstruction, Cialowicz interprets these two small strokes as part of the Red Crown.

If this reconstruction is correct, then the Red Crown may indeed have been worn by a king prior to the reign of the Horus Narmer. If the Red Crown was associated with Lower-Egypt before Narmer's reign, then Cialowicz's reconstruction would show that Upper- and Lower-Egypt may already have been united before Narmer came to power.

However, Cialowicz reconstruction is solely based on a few scanty traces on the remaining fragments of the mace head. In Cialowicz's reconstruction, the two traces of a Red Crown are located on two small, individual fragments. Each fragment contains part of a sign representing a flower, a sign that we can find combined with 'Scorpion's symbol elsewhere on the mace head. In Cialowicz's reconstruction, however, the lower flower is placed where we would expect to find the symbol of the scorpion, making it very doubtful that the lower fragment is to be placed directly underneath the higher one. As a result, it is also unlikely that the two fragments can be connected directly and that they contained the representation of the Red Crown.

- The Macehead of King 'Scorpion' -

Detail from the Macehead of 'Scorpion', showing the king with the White Crown.

The Macehead of king 'Scorpion'. The white parts are a reconstruction of the shape of the object.

Tentative reconstruction drawing by Cialowicz, proposing that 'Scorpion' was also shown wearing the Red Crown on his Macehead.


  1st Dynasty   Narmer Palette   'Scorpion' Macehead
  Narmer   Titulary    
  Aha   Umm el-Qa'ab (tomb)    


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