Spatulate Celt – 34Lf53/002 (written by Alyxandra Stanco)

A variety of stone artifacts were found during the 1936 WPA excavations at the Spiro Mounds site. Among them is this celt. A celt is a long ax-like object that would have been hafted and sometimes used for digging. This celt is 23cm long and 9cm wide and is 2.5cm thick. It is probably made of white chert. Hamilton (1952:44) describes the celt as having been ground and polished until there was a glass-like finish.


This artifact is known as a spatulate celt, or ceremonial spud. The spatulate celt is typically flat with a rounded head and rectangular poll ends. The poll is the end of the celt that is held. The flat-flared form has a flattened end and a rectangular head. The bell-shaped form is named for its unique shape. It is bell-shaped and round and has concave edges. Lastly, the union form is a chipped flint form with s-shaped edges.

There has been debate about the function of the celt form. According to Sievert (2011:97), celts fall into two categories: utilitarian celts or ceremonial celts. Utilitarian celts were used for everyday tasks that might have included digging. Celts might have been useful for making small trenches for water or other resources and were used as axes that went into the ground. Brown (1996:477) refers to the celt as an ax form. He also indicated there may have been a ceremonial use for celts.