Rectangular palette

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

Findspot: Egypt, Mesaid, Tomb 231


Length x width: 14.5 x 10.1 cm (5 11/16 x 4in.); Range of thickness: 0.8-1.4 cm (5/16-9/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Cosmetic and medical

This greywacke palette is almost rectangular in shape, showing slightly rounded
corners and tapering long sides. Modeling and smoothing of the surfaces are irregular. Its outer edges are chipped. The center of one surface is scratched and worn, possibly indicating 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 Mesaid (Mesa'eed), tomb 231, no. 13 [M/231/13]. 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