What in the World is This?


This is the Narmer Palette from ancient Egypt, dated to about 3150 B.C.–insofar as anything that old can be dated with any degree of certainty. The scholarly consensus is 3150 B.C., but consensus is not quite the same thing as solid fact.

Narmer–we think!–was the first king of a unified Egypt, and this siltstone palette, about two feet high, memorializes him and his achievement. Both sides are illustrated, but only the side shown above is our subject for today. We’re talking around 3150 B.C., and already the Egyptian hieroglyphics are in use and can be read, and certain artistic conventions, which would persist for three millenia, are already in place. There must have been a long period of learning and development in Egypt before this artifact was created. Going how far back, we do not know.

But getting down to business, check out the middle section of the palette–the two strange beasts with long necks intertwined, and wranglers controlling them with halters. Look at them closely. What are they?

The consensus (here we go again!) is that these are imaginary animals that probably meant something, once upon a time, in ancient Egyptian iconography, but whose meaning has been lost over time.

But when you took a good look at those creatures, did the word “dinosaur” pop into your head?

Oh, but that’s absurd! Those animals have external ears, and dinosaurs didn’t!

Didn’t they? Ears are soft tissue. The chances of external ears surviving as fossils are so small as to be virtually zero. If some dinosaurs had external ears, we wouldn’t know it.

Yeah, but the faces! They look much more like lion or leopard faces–not dinosaurs.

Oh? Suddenly we know what all dino faces looked like?

It occurs to me that there was a sauropod dinosaur in Africa called Vulcanodon, which was just about the same size, relative to the human wranglers, as the creatures on the palette. No skull of Vulcanodon has ever been found, so we can have no idea what its face looked like.

Consider: If elephants did not exist today, and no one had ever seen one, or even a picture of one, what would any scientist think, who found a fossilized elephant skull? Would he ever deduce the elephant’s trunk? They like to say they would, but we are at liberty not to believe them.

Ancient Egyptians routinely and realistically portrayed many animals in their art, and even in Narmer’s time, had zoos. So there are really only two choices, in regard to the long-necked beasts on the Narmer Palette.

Either they are imaginary, or they’re not.

And if they’re not… what are they?

11 comments on “What in the World is This?

  1. This is so cool. I never knew about this palette but I did think “dinosaurs” when I saw the animals in the middle.

    1. It’s funny, but I’ve seen pictures of the Narmer Palette for years and years without ever really… seeing it! Now I can’t stop wondering about it.

  2. Great post! They look like dinosaurs to me. In Texas they have found human footprints next to dinosaur footprints. But since this doesn’t match the macro-evolutionary fantasy it is swept under the rug.

    1. The discovery of soft tissue in dinosaur remains has pretty much obliterated the “official” timeline. I’m more than willing to accept that Dinosaurs coexisted with humans.

    2. Having been brought up on the Evolution/Old Earth paradigm, I still find it hard sometimes to break away. I don’t believe in evolution anymore, but it’s still hard for me to imagine that the whole pageant of life on earth could have been squeezed into a few thousand years. But this is my problem, not God’s.

      I’ve seen pictures of and read articles about those maybe human tracks found with the dinosaur tracks in the Paluxey River, Texas. My impression is that both sides in the controversy force the data–which isn’t much, as data goes.

      The fossil record, for the most part, leads to hopefully reasonable speculation, but almost never to certain knowledge. It wasn’t long ago they were trying to laugh off the dinosaur “soft tissue” discoveries as either fraud or incompetent researchers who didn’t know ordinary bathtub ring bacteria when they saw it. But the soft tissue is undeniably real; and it means that either our entire understanding of fossilization was totally all wet… or else the fossils just aren’t anywhere near as old as we thought.

      Another thing the Narmer Palette does is make me wonder just how old Egyptian civilization really was, and how old civilization itself might be. As I read the Bible, it tells me that civilization started up in a hurry, after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden–none of this tens of thousands of years of being cavemen, then suddenly inventing civilization.

      There really is an awful lot we just don’t know.

    3. I don’t really have a strong opinion about the age of the earth, the Universe, etc. I do, 100% believe the account of events in Eden. Were there dinos contemporary with humans? A few years ago I would have ruled this out, but these days I’m open to the idea. I’m not about to be dogmatic about this.

    4. The young earth creationist will say that creation makes things appear older than they are. For instance, Adam was created in a day as a fully grown man. That made him appear older than he was. I suppose there is some merit to this argument, though I tend to agree with you. Then there are Christians who believe in an Old Earth, and that the events of Genesis are a recreation. I tend to lean toward this view. Although I do believe mankind is closer to six thousand years. Our recorded history does not go back that far, the bulk of which is in the last two thousand years. After three to four thousand years, it starts to get sketchy. For instance, there are even no contemporary sources of Alexander the Great. In any case, there is a lot of pre-history that we may never know on this side of eternity.

    5. Dr. Gerald Schroeder is a physicist and a devout religious Jew. He made an interesting point, that the creation account starts from a different point of view than the earth, because it starts before earth itself was created. If all matter came from a single source it would have been intensely energetic before it cooled enough for quarks to organize and for matter to come into any form recognizable as matter in the terms we think of it. From that threshold point, as a viewpoint, the creation epoch would seem six days long, but from the standpoint of the earth, the dilation of time caused by expansion would make that six days appear to be roughly 14,000,000,000 years. So, according to him, and coming from the standpoint of a physicist, it was six days and 14,000,000,000 years. I’m neither endorsing or criticizing that viewpoint. My point is that there’s a lot which is unknown.

      The history of mankind at 6,000 literal years seems feasible enough. There are no records except the timeline of the Bible, so I’ll be glad to accept that. According to my understanding, everything that existed before the Flood was destroyed: everything. So there are no ways to be certain except the bible’s record.

      Some people have speculated that legends of dragons were actually dinosaurs. Maybe so. All forms of life were preserved in the ark, so that meant dinos, if they existed. Not all dinosaurs were huge. Most were relatively small. It could be that they grew to enormous size over time and never again were able to live that long after the Flood. I don’t claim to know.

      I’ve concluded that the Bible tells us all we need to know and the rest will have to wait.

    6. I have seen a video on Youtube with Dr. Schroeder presenting his theory. It is an interesting idea. If I recall, basically he said depending on where you are at in the universe time may go by faster or slower. Gravity, for instance, has been known to affect time. And who knows what the gravity was like during the creation. There are just somethings we cannot know.

      As for dinosaurs, I don’t know. But if the gap theory is correct it may suggest the dinosaurs were here before Adam, and that there some preAdemic civilization. An interesting theory is that Satans fall coincided with the extinction of the dinosaurs and that end of that civilization.

    7. IMHO, there’s just not enough information to go draw any firm conclusions. I’ve heard a lot of theories by good men, but I don’t know that anyone could be proven right. The Bible gives us enough to recognize the return of the messiah, but our God is not going to tip His hand. There are plenty of surprises in store.

      As Lee says, we don’t know how long they were in the Garden. The account in Genesis covers the high points and little else.

    8. One thing the Bible doesn’t tell us is just how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden. Remember, they were immortal then. Without that information, we can’t do a calculation of the time.

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