Late Neolithic Stone Tool 2.16" Celt
Late Neolithic Stone Tool 2.16" Celt
Rare Neolithic Tools!
The oldest knowledge of humankind we have doesn’t come from stories or recorded histories, but the stones our ancient ancestors left behind. Commonly known as celts, these stone tools were used by ancient humans at the dawn of the Agricultural Revolution.
This particular tool is a late Neolithic celt. Choppers, hoes, adzes, and axes all fall under the designation of celt. It refers to a long and polished stone with a sharpened edge. This edge was created by grinding the stone under water with sand and is still visible even today. This specimen is a 2.16" celt from North Africa and is dated to roughly 7,000-8,000 years old.
📸 A complete Neolithic Era Celt
An Incredible Piece of Human History
For most of history, the stone tool was one of the most important pieces of technology our species had. Stone tools like this one were used to chop, slash, crush, grind, dig, build, and more — they were truly a ubiquitous object.
For tens of thousands of years, the flint hand axe was our species' tool of choice. Then, in the Neolithic, a new innovation took hold. By grinding stones under water with sand, early humans could create a strong and polished tool with a sharp edge. These tools could be held in hand or hafted into wooden handles to create axes, plows, and adzes.
These new tools, called celts, played a major role in the early agricultural revolution as their smooth and sturdy structure were perfect for chopping and grinding crops.
📸 See the ancient craftsmanship present in each tool
This particular tool comes from North Africa and is dated to roughly 7,000-8,000 years old. This puts it contemporary with a period of increased wetness, leading to more wildlife, agriculture, and the development of early human communities. Experience the deep time present in the tool and wonder at the hands they must have touched!
Each tool ships in a sturdy cardboard carton and a certificate of authenticity is included with every specimen. Every Neolithic celt is a unique, one-of-a-kind specimen and is priced by size. You can see all our available tools in the collection below.
Earliest construction: ROUGHLY 2,600,000 years ago
MORE ABOUT Stone Tools
📸 Neolithic Paintings from Tassili N'Ajjer, Algeria
The First Technology
Stone tools are among the oldest human artifacts on the planet and they are the most abundant source of information about how ancient cultures lived. Clothing, wood, and even bones are decayed by the passage of time, but the resilience of stone tells us how truly ancient we are as a species.
The earliest known tools date back 2,600,000 million years, deep into the Paleolithic and far older than any known human civilization. For the vast majority of human history, the stone tool was the presiding technology of its time. Even into the Neolithic, these pressure flaked stones were ubiquitous. You can read more about these early Neolithic flint tools here.
This tool comes later on in our history, around 7,000 years ago. This was the Neolithic period, when humankind was beginning to experiment with agriculture and permanent settlements. Tools like this were perfect for grinding and cutting crops.
No event was more decisive in all of human history than the agricultural revolution, when nomadic tribes of hunter-gatherers began to inhabit permanent settlements. We may know little of the stories and histories of these people, but it is here that the history of modern humanity can be traced, in the stone tools they’ve left behind.
📸 A close look at the edge and grain of a celt
Reading the stones
We call these tools "celts." It's something of an umbrella term: a cutting tool that was used in a variety of tasks. From chopping wood to digging soil, celts were a kind of prehistoric Swiss Army knife. They’re often smoother than their earlier counterparts and defined by a distinct ground edge along its one side, produced by grinding the rock under water with sand or another type of grit. Essentially, they were being polished and sharpened to an edge.
This sharpened edge is key in identifying celts. It also indicates deliberate manufacturing as opposed to simply using a rock as a found tool. These tools would have been mounted to a wooden handle, similar in appearance to a hatchet. Celts were also used as a status symbol, based on the length, material, and carvings on the stone.
These tools were very labor intensive, but they were also stronger and more durable when compared to flint tools. Igneous rock was the ideal material for celts due to its strength and coarseness.
📸 Capsian and Earlier Iberomaurusian sites discovered across North Africa. (Source: Peter Mitchell & Paul Lane)
Given celts’ simple design and vast utility, the tool appears in the historical record of many different cultures separated by vast distances and time. This celt comes from North Africa and is contemporary to the Capsian culture of 8,000 BCE.
The Capsian are a good example of the limits of our ability to reconstruct the ancient past. Little is known of their culture, but we can still trace their progress as a civilization in their tools left behind. For example, in an archeological site in Tunisia, one can see the Capsians’ progression as tool makers. The layered strata charts their progress from simple stone tools to decorative ceramics.
The intricacies of daily life in Neolithic culture may be a mystery to us, but even across all this time, we can still track their progress as a civilization. Celts like this one aren’t simply a sharp rock used to dig dirt, they’re points on a timeline that stretches all the way to our beginnings as a species. Tools like this are how we reconstruct the ancient past.
Front of the Specimen Card
Back of the Specimen Card
Wright, Katherine I. “Ground-Stone Tools and Hunter-Gatherer Subsistence in Southwest Asia: Implications for the Transition to Farming.” American Antiquity, vol. 59, no. 2, Society for American Archaeology, 1994, pp. 238–63.
Keeley, Lawrence H. “The Functions of Paleolithic Flint Tools.” Scientific American, vol. 237, no. 5, Scientific American, a division of Nature America, Inc., 1977, pp. 108–27.
Krakker, James. J. “A Hafted Stone Celt from Genesee County, Michigan and Implications for Ground Stone Tool Use in the Eastern Woodlands.” Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, vol. 36, no. 1, 2011, pp. 5–28.
Mulazzani, Simone, and Isabelle Sidéra. “Technological and Typological Study of the Upper Capsian Bone Assemblage from SHM-1, Tunisia.” Journal of African Archaeology, vol. 10, no. 1, 2012, pp. 45–57.
Stroulia, Anna. “Ground Stone Celts from Franchthi Cave: A Close Look.” Hesperia, vol. 72, no. 1, 2003, pp. 1–30.