© 1996 by Kevin Fleury unless otherwise noted. No unauthorized use permitted. Contact us at neferchichi@comcast.net

The Pharaohs

"Scorpion"
Name: nick-named for the scorpion hieroglyph in his name
Rule: c.3150 BC, king at some point during "dynasty 0" (Early Dynastic Period)

 

Forget everything you learned about "The Scorpion King" from the movie The Mummy Returns. There was no magic bracelet, no pact with Anubis, no transformation into a giant scorpion creature. Actually, information from Scorpion's time is very sketchy. What little we do know about him comes from a carved picture on a mace (a big club that was a choice weapon for smashing enemies' heads) that was found over a hundred years ago at a dig in Hierakonpolis. This particular mace was made from limestone, so it was intended for ceremonial use only since it would've been way too heavy to use in battle.

 

Although much of it is broken away, there are some important details that can be made out. Along the top of the carving, small birds called lapwings can be seen hanging by their necks from poles. This seems to indicate that the picture commemorates a victory, because the lapwing represents "common people" when used as a hieroglyph.

 

The main picture in the scene is that of a king wearing the white conical crown (hedjet) of Upper Egypt. Since there doesn't seem to be any picture of him wearing the red wedge crown (deshret) of Lower Egypt (it may have been in the area that is broken, but who knows?) it is assumed that he comes before Narmer, the king who united Upper and Lower Egypt and combined the hedjet and deshret to make the double crown (shemty) to symbolize his rule over all of Egypt.

 

A seven-petaled flower and scorpion carved in front of his face suggest that those two characters spell out his name (probably pronounced Serket), since it was customary to place a pharaoh's name in this position on this type of commemorative victory scene.

Scorpion on ceremonial mace. By Udimu (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Watch: "The Scorpion King." YouTube video about the discovery of Scorpion (despite that it says "King Narmer" in the first frame of the video)