Scribal Palette

Accession Number

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The upper portion of a metasiltstone model scribal palette. The even bottom edge indicates that it was sawn off from a complete palette, leaving a smooth surface, probably by a metal saw in modern times. The scene is set within a rectangular perimeter frame, which is surmounted by a pt-sign; however, based on analogous scenes from offering stelae, the expected wꜢs-sceptres supporting the pt-sign are not present. Within the frame the god Thoth is depicted being praised by the palette’s owner. A table with a spouted nmst-vessel and a lotus flower are placed between the two figures. Thoth is portrayed with a lunar disc upon his head and holding an ꜥnḫ and wꜢs-sceptre. Directly in front of the lunar disc is the horizontal text Ḏḥwty “Thoth.” A line of horizontal—rotating to vertical—text runs above the depiction of the owner. His two hands are raised in a gesture of making praise, while he is clothed in a long, flowing garment. His lack of hair is indicative of a priestly role. Immediately in front of the owner’s name is an occupational title, its reading not so clear. A column of text below his upraised hands states that he is a “scribe [?] of Amun.” At the bottom of this fragment are traces of at least two vertical columns of text. They are heavily damaged, but a cluster on the left side, beneath the offering table, seems to be “words spoken,” while to the right traces of a necked nw-jar are clear. Given the iconographic and onomastic tendencies, it is probably reasonable to date the palette generally to the Third Intermediate Period (c. 1069–715 BC), recognizing that a slightly earlier or later date is not out of the question. It is clear that the palette has been used for a secondary purpose as the obverse face has been heavily abraded with a deep horizontal score, essentially at knee-level of the two figures. From this declivity run three vertical lines, also cut secondarily. A similar set of marks are found on the reverse side. Based on parallels, this would have been for the production of beads. "Zagazig" is written on the back of the object, which indicates that it comes from the site of Bubastis. Previously part of the collection of Ellinor Berens, which was sold at auction in 1923. It was purchased by Sir Henry Wellcome before being loaned to the Egypt Centre in 1971 as part of the distribution of the Wellcome collection.


Sagrillo, Troy Leiland 2017. King Djeḥuty-em-ḥat in Swansea: three model scribal palettes in the collection of the Egypt Centre of Swansea University. In Jurman, Claus, Bettina Bader, and David A. Aston (eds), A true scribe of Abydos: essays on first millennium Egypt in honour of Anthony Leahy, 385–414. Leuven: Peeters. [pp. 386–389]

Last modified: 27 Nov 2023

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