Lenticular palette

Early Dynastic Period, Dynasty 1
2960–2770 B.C.

Findspot: Egypt, Zawyet el-Aryan, Grave Z 218


Height x width x thickness: 13.3 x 7.9 x 0.8 cm (5 1/4 x 3 1/8 x 5/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Cosmetic and medical

This greywacke palette is roughly lenticular, possibly intended as a stylized fish shape. Once broken in two fragments, it has been mended. The smaller fragment is in more battered condition. The ends appear to have come to points, but have been chipped. A slight depressio in the surface may indicate use.

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.


From Zawyet el-Aryan, Grave Z 218. 1910-11: excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of Egypt.

(Accession date: October 19, 1911)

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition