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ES1523

A rare Egyptian Bird Palette, Pre-Dynastic Period, Naqada I-II, ca.3800 - 3400 B.C.

Thinly carved from fine gray slate, the crescent form slightly bevelled at the edges and depicting two abstract birds with down turned beaks and shallow drilled holes for eyes that were probably originally inlaid with shell, facing outward in opposite directions, the joined tail also drilled from both sides for attachment/suspension.

Such "pelta-shaped" palettes, so called by Petrie on account of their resemblance to shields carried by Amazonian Indians (Petrie, 1920b, p.37), were found during the mid-Predynastic period.  What they were attached to is still unclear for they have not been found tied to a body and there is no proof they were a form of adornment (Teeter, p.197).  

Reference:  Petrie, WMF "Prehistoric Egypt with Corpus of Prehistoric Pottery and Palettes" (1920b) 

Teeter E. (ed.), "Before the pyramids. The origins of Egyptian civilization" (2011).

Dimensions: Width: 5 inches (12.7 cm), Mounted Height: 5 inches (12.7 cm)

Condition: Minor chip above the central perforation, a small loss to one bird head restored with cosmetic overpainting, otherwise intact and in excellent condition overall with wear indicative of ancient use.  A rare and very fine example.

Provenance: J. N. Winnie, Jr. private collection, Georgia assembled in 1980’s-1990’s, private CT collection, thereafter, private New York, NY collection.

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