The cosmetic palettes of middle to late predynasticEgypt are archaeologicalartifacts, originally used to grind and apply ingredients for facial or body cosmetics. The decorative palettes of the late 4th millennium BC appear to have lost this function and became commemorative, ornamental, and possibly ceremonial. They generally were made of softer and workable stone such as slate or mudstone.
Many of the palettes were found at Hierakonpolis, a centre of power in pre-dynasticUpper Egypt. After the unification of the country, the palettes ceased to be included in tomb assemblages.
Even undecorated palettes were often given pleasing shapes, such as the zoomorphic palettes, which included turtles and, very commonly, fish. The fish zoomorphic palette often had an upper-centrally formed hole, presumably for suspension, and thus display.