Ever Wondered What Equipment Were Used to Create Makeup in Ancient Egypt?

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These ancient Egyptian cosmetic palettes are archaeological artifacts, originally used in predynastic Egypt to grind and apply ingredients for facial or body cosmetics. These decorative palettes of the late 4th millennium BCE appears to have lost this function and became commemorative, ornamental, and possibly ceremonial. They were made almost exclusively out of siltstone with a few exceptions.

Bull Palette

The Bull Palette is an Ancient Egyptian cosmetic palette, used as a cosmetic palette for the grinding of cosmetics. It is dated to Naqada III, the final two centuries of the fourth millennium BC (~3800 BC), immediately preceding the Early Dynastic Period. It is in the collection of the Musée du Louvre.

Bull Cosmetic Palette Egypt

Bull Palette Front

The front of the Bull Palette has the top left iconography of the Bull overpowering a Warrior which right half is missing, with a probable second bull facing the first. The rest of the front contains a large “fortified-walled-city”, and is identified in the center with a “larger-lion-and-‘Nu’-(vessel); a smaller register section below contains the upper left quarter of a 2nd fortified-city. 

Bull Palette Rear

A rope appears to encircle, or is at least part of the entire reverse, as one of the reverse motifs. Five standards are shown collectively on the palettes right

  1. A hippopotamus with open mouth
  2. A hippopotamus with open mouth
  3. The “Sacred Ibis”
  4. The standing Horus-Falcon
  5. Symbol: “Thunderbolt of Min”-(an encircled snake on the standard?)

See Also

Battlefield Palette

The Battlefield Palette may be the earliest battle scene representation of the dozen or more ceremonial or ornamental cosmetic palettes of ancient Egypt. The palettes probably date mostly from the Naqada III (ca. 3300–3100 BC).

Battle Palette Egypt
Battle Palette Front

The Battlefield Palette obverse contains the circular defined area for the mixing of a cosmetic substance. It contains the battlefield scene, and forerunners of hieroglyphs: prisoner, tribal-territory wooden standard. The reverse of the palette has dramatically stylized versions of a bird, two antelope-like mammals, a vertical palm-tree trunk, a partial top with fruits, and short horizontal palm fronds.

Hunters Palette

Hunter Palette Egypt

The Hunters Palette or Lion Hunt Palette is a circa 3100 BCE cosmetic palette from the Naqada III period of late prehistoric Egypt with the dimension of h. 66.8 cm (x 25.7). The palette is broken: part is held by the British Museum and part is in the collection of the Louvre.

The Hunters Palette shows a complex iconography of lion hunting as well as the hunt of other animals such as birds, desert hares, and gazelle types; one gazelle is being contained by a rope. The weapons used in the twenty-man hunt are the bow and arrow, mace, throwing sticks, and spears.

The Four Dogs Palette


The “Four dogs Palette”, or Palette of the Quadrupeds with giraffes on the reverse side is dated 3300-3100 BC. It is made from Graywacke with a dimension of height 32 cm (x 17). In the center, one circle is visible which was probably used for cosmetic purposes.

Front side with the four dogs, one ISIS, possibly one Lion, and one unknown creator. This palette is currently available in the Louvre museum, Paris.

Libyan Palette

Libya Palette

The Libyan Palette (also variously known as the City Palette, the Libyan Booty Palette, the Libyan Tribute Palette, the Siege Palette, the Tehenu- or Tjehenu Palette) is the surviving lower portion of a stone cosmetic palette bearing carved decoration and hieroglyphic writing. It dates from the Naqada III or Protodynastic Period of Egypt (c. 3200 to 3000 BC).

The palette was found at Abydos, Egypt. The palette is made of schist and it is 19 cm long and 22 cm wide.

On one side, there is a scene of walking lines of animals. According to most scholars it is associated with Libya. Below these animals, an orchard with olive trees is depicted.

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. Scholars have suggested that the animals represent royal armies or symbols.


There are not only these five cosmetics artifacts. Till now hundreds of such artifacts have discovered but the above artifacts are in good condition. By looking into these artifacts it is not so difficult to guess that cosmetics and makeup were in great trend in ancient days.

Women were choosing their cosmetic utilities by their choices as there were hundreds of choices. Was these type of artifacts available for queens only or common women also could use this? What is your view on these cosmetic artifacts

I hope you read something new today. Share your views in the comments section below.

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