As reported at Slashdot, Archaeology magazine has an online article about evidence of zombie attacks in ancient Egypt, circa 3000 B.C. According to the article, written with a light hand, one suspects, the Palette of Narmer (above), found at Hierakonpolis, depicts this early encounter with the undead:
On the other hand, in support of the earlier date, some have claimed that the famous Palette of Narmer (ca. 3000 B.C.), also from Hierakonpolis, far from recording a victory in the war of unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, is instead a celebration of the successful repulse of a zombie attack. Although we tend to focus on the verso where the king is shown smiting a kneeling enemy, it is the other side that is actually the front. It is the side with the depression for mixing the cosmetics for adorning the cult statue, and so it would seem that the scene of the king marching in procession to view a pile of decapitated bodies is the really important message.
The theory of “Undead Evolutionary Influence” has many supporters in the paleoanthropological community. Louis Leakey even mentioned it in his ground-breaking paper “Lucy Fights a Ghoul.” However, in order to test this theory, one would have to clone our pre-human ancestors, then infect them with the zombie virus.
All discussions of these various zombie related resources tend to include the phrase tongue in cheek — a term I am not familiar with — which suggests the visceral experience of a zombie devouring its own tongue in the early stages of zombification. Whatever the true origin of this term, it is clear that zombies and tongue in cheek will indelibly be linked in my mind.