Shield-shaped palette

Predynastic Period
Naqada II–III, 3650–2960 B.C.


Height x width x thickness: 20 x 9 x 0.8 cm (7 7/8 x 3 9/16 x 5/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Cosmetic and medical

This obejct is a shield-shaped (scutiform) palette of greywacke. It does not carry any ornamentation. One area of wear appears near the center of one face, possibly indicating use. The outer edges are slightly chipped in some areas.

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