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The Battlefield Palette

Perhaps from Abydos, Egypt
Late Predynastic period, around 3150 BC

Ceremonial mudstone palette with scenes

Mudstone palettes are distinctive objects from the Predynastic period. The basic function of the palette was as a surface for grinding cosmetics, but they are also often decorated. At some point they began to be used to commemorate events, or even as elements of the display of power by leading figures. Many were made too large to have been of practical use; this example does not even have space for grinding cosmetics.

The interpretation of the so-called scenes on these palettes is very difficult, as we understand so little about their context. The 'Battlefield palette' shows a lion and a vulture preying on a number of dead bodies. It is assumed that these are enemies fallen in battle, and some have speculated that the lion represents a ruler or king and the palette records a royal victory.

A fragment of this palette, now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, shows two bound captives.

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The Battlefield Palette

  • Underside of palette

    Underside of palette

 

More information

Bibliography

A.M. Donadoni Roveri and F. Tiradritti (eds.), Kemet: alle sorgenti del tempo (Milan, Electa, 1998)

A.J. Spencer, Catalogue of Egyptian antiqu-4 (London, The British Museum Press, 1980)

A.J. Spencer, Early Egypt, The rise of civil (London, The British Museum Press, 1993)

Dimensions

Length: 28.000 cm
Width: 20.000 cm

Museum number

EA 20791

YCA63631

Location

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