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The Battlefield Palette

  • Underside of palette

    Underside of palette


Length: 28.000 cm
Width: 20.000 cm

EA 20791

Room 64: Early Egypt


    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.

    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)


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    On display: Room 64: Early Egypt

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