The ancient Egyptians of Pharaonic prehistory used pieces of rounded or rectangular pieces of schist to grind their eye paint. The forms evolved and became more elaborate around the proto-historic period, ending in shield-shaped palettes decorated with bird heads at the top.
This example, in the shape of a fish, is incised with lines to mark the dorsal fin, and the eye is encrusted with a piece of shell.
These palettes seem to have disappeared from the 1st Dynasty onwards (towards 3300 B.C.) and their originally utilitarian purpose was subsequently replaced by a ritual role.