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Oval Cosmetic Palette with Bird Heads

Place of production Egypt
Date 3500–3000 B.C.
Object type implements and utensils
Medium, technique Mudstone

17 x 10.9 x 0.6 cm

Inventory number 60.3-E
Collection Egyptian Art
On view Museum of Fine Arts, Basement Floor, Ancient Egypt, Daily life

The use of eye paints was especially common not only for women but also for men in order to enhance their beauty and to protect their users against the harmful rays of the sun and various eye diseases.
Typical artefacts of the predynastic material culture are the cosmetic palettes, used for grinding the raw materials for eye paints (malachite and galena) and for mixing them with animal fat, oil or resin. Depressions, grinding traces and pigments on the surfaces of the palettes clearly refer to this kind of use. The flat palettes were made of stone, generally of slate, as in the case of this palette, but limestone, granite or alabaster pieces are also well known.
The present palette has the form of a shield with antithetically placed bird heads on the top, which appeared in the predynastic material culture during the Naqada IIa phase. The bird heads are schematically rendered, which makes it possible to date them to the late Naqada II – or very probably Naqada III. The small hole between the two bird heads was used to hang the object.

This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.

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