Fish-shaped palette

Egyptian
Predynastic Period
Naqada II–III, 3650–2960 B.C.


Findspot: Egypt, Mesaid, Tomb 16

Dimensions

Height x width x thickness: 13.5 x 8.5 x 0.5 cm (5 5/16 x 3 3/8 x 3/16 in.)

Accession Number

11.200

Medium or Technique

Greywacke

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Cosmetic and medical

This greywacke palette may be a stylized representation of a fish. Two suspension holes are drilled through at the top suggest interpretation as fish rather than a vertically oriented shield-shape. Depressions are worn into the center of both surfaces, suggestive of use. There is considerable chipping around the outer edges.

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

From Mesaid [Mesa'eed] tomb 16, no. 7 [M/16/7]. 1910: excavated by the Harvard University–Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of Egypt.
(Accession Date: March 2, 1911)

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition