The Libyan Palette, like the famous Narmer Palette, is one of the few stone palettes from this period which contain some of the earliest examples of hieroglyphs and also show the early use of registers (lined separators) for displaying and separating distinct subject matter.
The iconography of the palette is as follows: one side of the palette contains scenes of walking animals, in three registers, above a fourth register, two rows of four plants each. (Gardiner's signs T14 above N18, in typographic ligature terminate the last plant, a tree).
The three lines of walking animals are cattle, donkeys, and gazelles. The opposite side of the Libyan Palette contains seven cities identified by their hieroglyphs, shown within each city wall. Above each city is depicted an animal holding the mr hand-plough.
While this hieroglyph can be translated as "beloved" (suggesting the animals are depictions of the symbol of each town), others have proposed that in this context a translation of "attacking" or "destroying" is applicable, and thus the animals are associated with the attackers, not with the cities.
Animals remain to be seen by the walls of only four of the cities on the damaged palette:
The iconography of walking lines of animals within registers can also be seen on the ivory handle of the Gebel el-Arak Knife.
The palette is made of schist, is 18.5 cm long (originally estimated to have been around 70 cm tall and 21 cm wide. Housed in Room 43 on the ground floor of the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, its Journal d'Entrée number is JE27434 and its Catalogue Général number is CG14238.
The seven cities appear to be associated with the following hieroglyphic characters within the square-shaped city walls. (Gardiner nos. O15 & O36)
City 1–Scarab beetle
City 2–Pair of pugilists or the 'gemini twins'
City 4–Owl-(the later letter "m")
City 5–Sedge Plant-(the King/Kingdom)-(see offering formula)
The bottom fourth register contains two rows of four trees; the end of the second tree row has a vertical throwing stick upon a hieroglyph for "land". (A vertical double-curved throw stick (hieroglyph) upon an early form of a Hill-country (hieroglyph)-(ovate shape like the "sh", pool hieroglyph)-or the "land"-(land, as land but used as "region", not the 'region' hieroglyph), 'ta' hieroglyph-ovate form.)
Modern Betrò hieroglyph text: "City Plan" hieroglyph
is explained (with the Libyan Palette photo) in her 1996 book with the cities of the Libyan Palette, and a discussion of the predynastic Egyptcosmetic palette corpus. (see some of the corpus: Category:Archaeological palettes, or Predynastic palette corpus: ) The hieroglyph is identical to a street intersection, but as later used in the three millennia of hieroglyphs, a townsite is referenced; however as discussed in her text Hieroglyphics: The Writings of Ancient Egypt, the fortified walls and somewhat rounded shapes imply the city. Also, buildings, as 'tiny-block-squares' are apparent in the towns, (and may indicate town size?), with of the 7 towns pictured, the number of buildings (from top left), are: 4(?), 0, 7, 8, 3, 2, and 3.
Two other palettes in the corpus contain the "City" hieroglyph. It is partial, but obvious on the Narmer Palette. The Bull Palette contains two of ? cities, because of the missing portion. The two cities are in separate registers, and are sized differently-(one is only a partial/broken). (see Bull Palette, photo: )
With the interpretation of cities, war and peace themes, and other iconography, and the animals appearing from a 'foreign countryside', by the throw stick & land hieroglyphs, an interpretation of a similar usage of the "land" hieroglyph-ligature combination, (in front of a prisoner) upon the Battlefield Palette can be determined.