A large Egyptian Pre-Dynastic Cosmetic Palette, Pre-Dynastic, Naqada I, ca. 3800 - 3400 BCE


carved of fine greywacke (silt-stone), of characteristic shield-shaped form (scutiform) with rounded sides and a pointed top is a good example of the earliest predynastic palettes.   Of substantial size, evidence of use can be determined by three distinct grinding areas to the upper surface.

For related examples and discussion on style cf: Petrie, WMF "Prehistoric Egypt with Corpus of Prehistoric Pottery and Palettes" (1920) Plate LVII #87B-N

Beginning in the Predynastic era, the Egyptians used schist palettes to grind up malachite and galena. These materials were used as eye paint for both health and cosmetic purposes. The palettes have geometric, animal, and shield forms. The first palettes used in the Badarian Period and in Naqada I were usually plain, rhomboidal or rectangular in shape, without any further decoration such as this example. It is not until the Naqada II period that the zoomorphic palette is most common. Important historical, religious, and mythological events were later engraved upon them. The inscribed palettes were sometimes deposited in temples as ex-votos, which are offerings in fulfillment of a vow. The most important palettes that have been discovered are the Narmer palette and the Libyan palette. Other palettes are exhibited in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England.

Dimensions: Length: 27 cm (10.6 inches)

Condition: Signs of usage with some surface losses to the back from wear, overall intact and in good condition overall.   A most appealing utilitarian piece on museum quality custom mount.

Provenance: Private collection of Dr. U. Mueller, Switzerland, acquired between 1968 - 1978.

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