Rectangular palette

Early Dynastic Period, Dynasty 0
3100–2960 B.C.

Findspot: Egypt, Mesaid, Tomb 231


Height x width: 13.4 x 7.9 cm (5 1/4 x 3 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Cosmetic and medical

This greywacke palette is generally rectangular with slightly convex edges. Incised double lines create a border around the perimeter with two additional incised chevrons on the short sides. Traces of green malachite powder remain in the center, indicating use. There are some spots with mild staining. The palette is intact.

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 Mesaid [Mesa'eed] tomb 231, no. 8 [M/231/8]. 1910: Excavated by the Harvard University–Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA by the government of Egypt.
(Accession Date: March 2, 1911)

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition