Double bird palette

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

Findspot: Egypt, Mesaid, Tomb 197


Height x width x thickness: 10 x 6.5 x 0.4 cm (3 15/16 x 2 9/16 x 3/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Cosmetic and medical

Palette of gray stone shaped as double bird motif. One bird’s head broken off and missing; remaining head has drilled eye hole. Central projection/handle is pierced for suspension and is notched on either side for stringing. Two more drilled holes near the rounded base of the object. No evidence of grinding or wear patterns.

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.

For very simlar object see: 11.226a-b.


From Mesaid, tomb 197, no. 2 [M/197/2]. 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