Double bird palette

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


Dimensions

Height x width x thickness: 4.6 x 2.5 x 0.3 cm (1 13/16 x 1 x 1/8 in.)

Accession Number

03.1474

Medium or Technique

Greywacke

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Cosmetic and medical

This greywacke palette is in the form of two stylized bird heads extending from a lower portion that may originally have been shield-shaped, but which is now in rather battered, incomplete condition. The heads are somewhat assymetrically modeled, but form a circular edge on the upper portion potentially meant for the thumb when holding the palette.

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 (03.1474-03.1490) for £4. Acquired with funds from the Emily Esther Sears Fund. (Accession Date: January 1, 1903)

Credit Line

Emily Esther Sears Fund