Fragment of the Libyan palette

By Jacqueline Engel

This is a fragment of a much larger ceremonial palette celebrating the payment of tributes by the peoples of an area in modern Libya.

On this side, three registers of domestic animals are represented above a row of olive trees.

The ancient Libyans were famous for high quality olive oil.

The hieroglyph of the throwstick on an oval means ‘[ancient] Libya’ or ‘Western Delta’ and ‘region’, ‘place’ or ‘island.

The opposite side of the Libyan Palette shows the feet of some persons above a register line. Under the register, seven fortified towns are depicted, with the name of each town written within the wall. Above each town, an animal grasps its wall with the mr (hoe) hieroglyph.

Günter Dreyer has interpreted this scene as a scene of destruction and the animals, or animal standards, as royal names.

However, other scholars have suggested that the animals represent royal armies or symbols.

Another completely different interpretation is that the scene represents the foundation of these cities.

Naqada III, about 3300-2960 BC, Abydos, schist, JE 27434

Egyptian Museum Caïro

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