Double bird (or antelope horns) palette

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


Height x width x thickness: 15 x 6 x 0.6 cm (5 7/8 x 2 3/8 x 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Cosmetic and medical

This rhomboidal palette of greywacke is adorned at the top with a double bird (or antelope horns) ornamentation. There is slight staining on one face and slight wear on opposite, possibly indicating use. The upper decoration shows some chippping.

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.


Said to be from Sheikh Ali (Abadiya). 1904: Purchased for the MFA in Qena, Egypt from Ghirgas by Albert M. Lythgoe as part of a group ( 04.1855-04.1859) for £1. Acquired with funds from the Emily Esther Sears Fund. (Accession date: January 1, 1904)

Credit Line

Emily Esther Sears Fund