Fish cosmetic palette, 4000-3500 BC

Fish cosmetic palette, 4000-3500 BC
Period:Egypt, Predynastic Period, Predynastic Period
Dating:4000 BC–3500 BC
Origin:Egypt, Upper Egypt, Naqada
Physical:15.6cm. (6.1 in.) - 153 g. (5.4 oz.)

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Links to others from Predynastic Period

Macehead, Merimde, c. 5100 BC
Macehead, Merimde, c. 5100 BC
Prehistoric axe, Merimde, c. 5100 BC22
Shells amulet-pendant, c. 4500 BC
  This fish-shaped cosmetic palette made of basalt slate is from the Amratian (Naqada I) period of predynastic Egypt, around 4000-3500 B.C.

“During Naqada I, palettes with the outlines of animals began to appear… depicting the Nile bulti fish, Tilapia nilotica” (Adams 1988:58-59).

Hoffman (1991:110, 112, fig. 31) enlightens us with interesting context for such an item: “Predynastic slate pigment palette ground in the shape of a fish… Before 4000 BC the Predynastic peoples of Upper Egypt had already developed a strong belief of burying their surplus wealth with them, in strong contrast with their neighbors in the Delta, whose graves contain scarcely any material. Tombs were kinds of mini homes, with great attention given to the needs of the dead--another custom that became a hallmark of Dynastic Egyptian society. The deceased were laid on reed mats and invariably accompanied by grave offerings that reflected their relative wealth and aspects of their daily life: tools such as flint knives, scrapers and arrowheads; green slate grinding palettes with accompanying malachite or hematite pigment stones…”

Bibliography (for this item)

Adams, Barbara
1988 Predynastic Egypt. Shire, Princesss Risborough, United Kingdom. (58-59)

Capel, Anne K., and Glenn E. Markoe
1996 Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven: Women in Ancient Egypt. Hudson Hills Press, New York, NY. (
79, fig. 23 a)

Hoffman, Michael A.
1991 Egypt Before the Pharaohs: The Prehistoric Foundations of Egyptian Civilization. 2nd edition. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX. (
110, 112, fig. 31)

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