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The Battlefield Palette 3100 BC

The Battlefield Palette 3100 BC - Joy of Museums

The Battlefield Palette 3100 BC

This Battlefield Palette may be the earliest battle scene representation of ancient Egypt. Created before Egypt was united as one state under one pharaoh, a regional ruler commissioned this decorated palette to increase their influence. It was intended for display in early rituals related to power. The Battlefield Palette depicts the aftermath of a great battle. A lion devours a prisoner and vultures attack bound individuals and corpses. In the top left, two captives are tied to ceremonial standards topped with images that may represent gods.

The Battlefield Palette contains the circular defined area for the mixing of an unknown ceremonial substance. The battlefield scene was a forerunner of hieroglyphs. The palette is made of grey mudstone and is shown with another fragment from in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. The palette is decorated on both faces with scenes in low relief and on the reverse of the palette are two long-necked gazelles browsing on a date-palm.

British Museum Egypt 028

The reverse of the Battlefield Palette

The palette was made during the Naqada III period which was the last phase of the Naqada culture of ancient Egyptian prehistory, dating approximately from 3200 to 3000 BC. It is the period during which the process of state formation, became highly visible, with named kings heading dominant institutionalised hierarchy.

Another historically significant battlefield palette is the Narmer Palette, it contains some of the earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions ever found.

The Battlefield Palette 3100 BC

  • Title:                The Battlefield Palette 3100 BC
  • Date:                3100 BC
  • Period:            Naqada III
  • Findspot:        Abydos, Egypt
  • Materials:       Mudstone
  • Dimensions:   H:19.6 cm W:28.7 cm D: 1 cm; H: 32.8 cm (With Oxford fragment)
  • Museum:         The British Museum


“Victory belongs to the most persevering.” Napoleon



Photo Credit: 1) JOM 2) By Einsamer Schütze (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons