By John H. House
Artifact of the Month - April 2018
Celts are a form of stone or metal axe blade produced in a variety of shapes. They typically lack the notched or indented haft elements found on many other kinds of axe blades, but are symmetrical both in plan and cross-section views. Secured to a handle, celts functioned both as woodcutting tools and as weapons. Native Americans living in Southeastern North America produced celts for many thousands of years, using a variety of stone types and native copper. However, special manufacturing treatments, including elaborate craftsmanship, perforation for suspension, and decoration, along with where they are found in archeological contexts, suggest that some celts were made specifically for display or ceremonial purposes.
Pictured is a perforated celt from site 3PR32 in Prairie County. It was found during fieldwork by University of Arkansas and the Arkansas Archeological Survey in 1981 after the site was discovered eroding out of the bank of White River.
Perforated celt from Prairie County, obverse face.