Gerzeh Palette

Gerzeh Palette. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 43103
Gerzeh Palette. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 43103

This unusual schist palette was part of a Predynastic funerary assemblage which also contained ordinary vessels. It has an oval shape that widens slightly towards the top and it is pierced so that it could be suspended. The highly stylized relief decoration on one side reproduces the head of a cow with upward curving horns and prominent ears.

Five stars are included in the composition: two at the tips of the horns, one on the top of the head, and two on either side of the ears. The image was probably designed to evoke one of the bovine-form deities – the greatest being Hathor – who in this period were identified with the heavens. This palette was actually used to grind cosmetics, as indicated by the traces of malachite still present on the reverse.

Gerzeh Culture, Naqada II, Predynastic Period, ca. 3500-3200 BC. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 43103

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