Rectangular palette

Predynastic Period, Naqada III
3300–2960 B.C.


Height x width x thickness: 15.8 x 9.8 x 0.7 cm (6 1/4 x 3 7/8 x 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Cosmetic and medical

This mottled palette of greenish-gray greywacke is rectangular with slightly tapering edges. An incised line border (both single and double lines appear) is evident but either unfinished or worn off in most areas. One corner is broken off, but the palette is otherwise intact. The surface shows signs of wear/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.


By 1836: Robert Hay Collection, Linplum, Scotland; 1863: to his son, Robert James Alexander Hay; 1868-1872: Way Collection, Boston (purchased by Samuel A. Way through London dealers Rollin and Feuardent, 27 Haymarket); 1872: given to the MFA by Samuel's son, C. Granville Way.
(Accession Date: June 28, 1872)

Credit Line

Hay Collection—Gift of C. Granville Way