Pre-Dynastic Palettes

Turtle-shaped palette
Egypt, Naga el-Hai (Qena), tomb K 362 ; Naqada II, 36503300 B.C.E.
Greywacke, shell, Width x length: 13 x 16 cm (5 1/8 x 6 5/16 in.)
Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition 1913, MFA #13.3492
Photos ©Joan Ann Lansberry, 2014


"Hard stone palettes were used to grind malachite (a green copper ore) for eye paint, and were buried as offerings in the graves of both men and women from the end of the Neolithic period. They were usually placed near the head of the deceased, or perhaps suspended on a cord or leather thong around the neck. The earliest examples are flat and geometric, usually rectangular, but in the earliest phase of the Predynastic era (known as Naqada I), new shapes emerged, including representations of fish, birds, and turtles." (From museum website)

Fish-shaped palette
Egypt, Mesaid (Mesa'eed) tomb 123, no. 6. [M/123/6]; Naqada II, 36503300 B.C.E.
Greywacke, Height x width: 5.8 x 9.2 cm (2 5/16 x 3 5/8 in.)
Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition 1911, MFA #11.224

Turtle-shaped palette
Egypt, Mesaid (Mesa'eed) tomb 123, no. 5. [M/123/5]; Naqada I, 38503650 B.C.E.
Greywacke, Width x length: 51 x 42 cm (20 1/16 x 16 9/16 in.)
Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition 1911, MFA #11.227

Bird-headed palette
Egypt, Mesaid (Mesa'eed) tomb 185, no. 2 [M/185/2]; Naqada II, 36503300 B.C.E.
Greywacke, Height x width: 5.9 x 2.5 cm (2 5/16 x 1 in.)
Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition 1911, MFA #11.223

Double bird-headed palette
Egypt, Mesaid (Mesa'eed) tomb 148, no 2 [M/148/2]; Naqada II, 36503300 B.C.E.
Greywacke, Height x width: 4.9 x 3.7 cm (1 15/16 x 1 7/16 in.)
Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition 1911, MFA #11.229

Bird-headed palette
Egypt, Mesaid (Mesa'eed) tomb 185, no. 2 [M/185/2]; Naqada II, 36503300 B.C.E.
Greywacke, Height x width: 5.6 x 2.5 cm (2 3/16 x 1 in.)
Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition 1911, MFA #11.225


Palette with birds' heads
Egypt, (Deir el-Ballas, tomb 309; Naqada II, 36503300 B.C.E.
Greywacke, Height x width x depth: 26.6 x 9 x .5 cm (10 1/2 x 3 9/16 x 3/16 in.)
Bought from Harvard Camp 1947, MFA #47.1638
My photo doesn't show the birds' heads very well, so we turn to the museum photo: