Double bird head palette

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

Object Place: Egypt, Shiekh Ali (Abadiya)


Height x width x thickness: 27.7 x 11 x 0.9 cm (10 7/8 x 4 5/16 x 3/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Cosmetic and medical

Shield-shaped (scutiform) palette of gray stone. Top carved with double (highly stylized) bird head motif. Surface has slight pitting, perhaps from use.
No suspension hole.

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 issue: Dates and Exp.Ph. # look like Reisner/Hearst Expedition information, as does the 1947 Harvard Camp history, rather than Lythgoe. Needs to be clarified.]

From Sheikh Ali (Abadiya). Exp.Ph. O.S. C 1822
Purchased by Albert M. Lythgoe in Egypt, 1900-1901 for the MFA. Brought from Harvard Camp in 1947

Credit Line

Brought from Harvard Camp