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Three Olmec celts.  The one in the foreground is incised with an image of an Olmec supernatural.
Three Olmec celts. The one in the foreground is incised with an image of an Olmec supernatural.
Celts from Transylvania.
Celts from Transylvania.

In archaeology, a celt /ˈsɛlt/ is a long, thin, prehistoric, stone or bronze tool similar to an adze, hoe, or axe.

A shoe-last celt was a polished stone tool used during the early European Neolithic for felling trees and woodworking.


The term "celt" seems to have come about from a copyist's error in many medieval manuscript copies of Job 19:24 in the Latin Vulgate Bible, which became enshrined in the authoritative Sixto-Clementine printed edition of 1592. Where all earlier versions[1] (the Codex Amiatinus, for example) have "vel certe" (the Latin for "but surely"), the Sixto-Clementine has "vel celte." The Hebrew has לעד at this point, which means "forever." The editors of the Oxford English Dictionary "[incline] to the belief that celtis was a phantom word,"[2] simply a misspelling of "certe." However, some scholars over the years have treated celtis as a real Latin word.[2][3]

From the context of Job 19:24 ("Oh, that my words were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever!"), the Latin word "celte" was assumed to be some kind of ancient chisel. Eighteenth-century antiquarians, such as Lorenz Beger [de; fr], adopted the word for the stone and bronze tools they were finding at prehistoric sites; the OED suggests that a "fancied etymological connexion"[3] with the prehistoric Celts assisted its passage into common use.

See also


  1. ^ Edgar C. S. Gibson (1899). Walter Lock (ed.). The Book of Job (Westminster Commentaries). London: Methuen & Co. Retrieved 2020-09-27.
  2. ^ a b M. L. W. Laistner (1925-01-01). "Floscvli Philoxenei [Flosculi Philoxenei]". The Classical Quarterly. 19 (3/4): 192–195. doi:10.1017/S0009838800015846. JSTOR 636281.
  3. ^ a b Oxford English Dictionary entry for "CELT (2)," quoted in Martin Burns. "Re: the word Celt". CELTIC-L, The Celtic Culture List. Archived from the original on 2011-07-17.

External links

This page was last edited on 10 October 2021, at 13:17
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