Double bird palette

Egyptian
Predynastic Period
Naqada I–II, 3850–3300 B.C.


Dimensions

Height x width x thickness: 10.2 x 6 x 0.4 cm (4 x 2 3/8 x 3/16 in.)

Accession Number

03.1472

Medium or Technique

Greywacke

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Cosmetic and medical

This palette is in the form of two stylized bird heads extending from curved base (which comes almost to a point), each with prominently drilled eye holes. A vertical handle between the two heads has a drilled hole for suspension and is notched on either side for securing string. There are no signs of wear or rubbing. It is in slightly battered condition with some small chips missing.

Stone palettes are identified particularly with earlier periods of ancient Egyptian history. Non-functional (in the utilitarian sense), often elaborately decorated “ceremonial” examples are known. Often simpler, functional examples were used to grind and mix mineral-based pigments (including ocher, malachite, hematite) that were often mixed with other substances to make cosmetics or other decorative media.

Provenance

Said to be from Naqada. 1903: purchased for the MFA from Mohamed Mohassib, Luxor, Egypt by Albert M. Lythgoe as part of a group (03.1472-03.1473, 03.1495-03.1496, 03.1506) for 12 shillings. Acquired with funds from the Emily Esther Sears Fund. (Accession Date: January 1, 1903)

Credit Line

Emily Esther Sears Fund