The head of one of the dogs that frame the top of the palette is missing, and two drilled holes at the base of the neck suggest that it was repaired in antiquity. On the reverse of the palette, a mixture of fabulous and real wild animals occupy the left-hand side of the scene from where they attack a range of herbivores native to North Africa. From the top, there are a pair of lions, a serpopard, a leopard, a hyena and a griffin with comb-like wings. At the bottom is a long-tailed dog-like creature wearing a belt and playing an end-blown flute.
Presumably some of the imagery was carried to Egypt along trade routes, perhaps as seal impressions on containers, and the exotic creatures were adopted by Egypt’s early kings to express their otherworldly status and power.
Predynastic Period. ca. 3300-3100 BC. Siltstone. From Hierakonpolis (Nekhen). Now in the Ashmolean Museum. Oxford. AN1896-1908 E.3924