Double fish palette?

Predynastic Period
Badarian to Naqada III, 4500–2960 B.C.


height x width x thicknessl: 12.5 x 5.8 x 0.6 cm (4 15/16 x 2 5/16 x 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Cosmetic and medical

This palette of greywacke is roughly triangular in shape, with one corner especially rounded. It is possibly intended to represent opposing fish heads. At two side corners short, incised lines possibly indicate mouths. No overt indications of tail or eyes are evident. The palette is not pierced for suspension. There are slight traces of possible use wear in center of one face.

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 Naqada. 1903: purchased for the MFA from Mohamed Mohassib, Luxor, Egypt by Albert M. Lythgoe as part of a group (03.1474-03.1490) for £4. Acquired with funds from the Emily Esther Sears Fund. (Accession Date: January 1, 1903)

Credit Line

Emily Esther Sears Fund