Fragment of rectangular palette

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

Findspot: Egypt, Zawyet el-Aryan, Grave Z 486


Height x width x thickness: 16 x 13.1 x 1.1 cm (6 5/16 x 5 3/16 x 7/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Cosmetic and medical

This fragment is likely a little more than half of an original rectangular palette of greywacke. Its outer edges are very slightly rounded (convex). One face has a border of three parallel incised lines. The surface is abraded in what would have been the original center, likely indicative of 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 486 (Z/86). 1911: Excavated by the Harvard University–Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA by the government of Egypt.
(Accession Date: October 19, 1911)

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition