NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION

We have spent some time on oral and written communication; both of these are verbal, requiring the use of words or language. To balance things, let us also consider, unfortunately in very brief, communication through the use of images.  Presented in Illustration 5 is a tomb painting (about 1400 BC) that depicts the inspection of cattle. Above we see two rows of writing that comments on the event. This illustrates the simultaneous use of visual and verbal communication. More complex is the combination of verbal and non-verbal communication on the famous Narmer Palette (the central hollow on one face was probably contained eye shadow, either for the king or for the statue of a god) of the Archaic Period.(Illustration 6) It was found in Hierakonpolis, in or near a group of ritual artefacts cached away in a temple. It belongs to a category of sculpted mace-heads and cosmetic palettes that date to the Archaic Period and carry a kind of political message, in that a hunter, lion, bull or king is shown, subduing or vanquishing wild animals or human enemies.

On the Narmer Palette, horizontal lines or base lines mark out the different registers/frames. The lowest registers of the obverse and reverse are thematically connected, depicting the siege of a fort by Narmer as a Bull (on a base line) who also tramples an enemy chief. Bearded Asiatic chiefs flee the fort or lie dead. In the centre of the reverse, the enormous figure of Narmer in the white crown of Upper Egypt and on a base line, is shown dispatching a bearded enemy with his mace. Behind him, shown on a much smaller scale, is his sandalbearer and feet washer. He carries the king’s sandals and a water jug; at his neck is suspended the king’s seal; around his waist, a bowl for washing.

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