Object Image
Greenstone axe heads, commonly known as “celts,” were some of the most important works of art across ancient Mesoamerica and Central America. Created from jadeite mined from the Motagua River Valley of southern Guatemala, or using local green stones from highland Mexico, celts were first created by the Olmec peoples of the Gulf Coast after 1000 B.C. The Olmec conceived of green celts as sprouts of maize and thus “planted” celts in dedicatory offerings, activating ceremonial spaces and perpetuating agricultural fertility.

For the later Maya peoples, celts also served as dedicatory materials, but more so as adornments for the royal bodies of kings and queens. Often the celts would be thinned int ...
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Before 16th century
2.0 x 0.7in
Image and text © Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019

Where you'll find this

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Permanent collection