Shield-shaped palette

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

Findspot: Egypt, Deir el-Ballas, Tomb 154


Height x width x thickness: 12.5 x 8 x 0.7 cm (4 15/16 x 3 1/8 x 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Cosmetic and medical

This shield-shaped (scutiform) palette of light gray greywacke has incised notches decorating its outer edge on one side forming a triangular chevron pattern. There are slight traces of use. The palette is in excellent condition.

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 Ballas, Tomb B 154. 1900-1901: excavated by George A. Reisner for the Hearst Egyptian Expedition of the University of California (which became the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition in 1905); by 1947: at Harvard Camp, Giza; 1947: shipped to the MFA from Harvard Camp.
(Accession Date: January 1, 1947)

Credit Line

Brought from Harvard Camp