Knives are, without a doubt, one of the oldest tools that have proven to be most helpful to mankind. It can be difficult to imagine how the earliest human beings would have survived the ancient world without these implements to help them hunt and prepare their meals or protect them from danger. Up to these days, knives or the bladed edge, in particular, serve a variety of purposes which no other tool can effectively perform.
The Stone Age
The earliest knives were made out of whatever possible material available to the earliest humans – including stones and animal bones. A few years back, archaeologists found a knife from an excavation site in Spain that is about 1.4 million years old. This stone fragment was made from Flint and was discovered to have been created by hominids who resided in the area during that era. However, it is still thought that there are earlier versions of these, possibly dating to 2 million years ago, that are still left uncovered. Flint was thought to be the material of choice back then since they were the easiest to shape and scale.
Before the Neolithic period (around 4000-7000 years ago), stone knives were very blunt and didn’t serve much purpose when it comes to cutting and slicing endeavors. However, when this era came in, stone knives were starting to improve. The stone knives of this age were being sharpened and polished to create better edges. Handles were also starting to be tied or fitted into them. The first handles were mostly made of wood or were simply animals hides wrapped around one end of the blade in order to keep them from cutting the user’s hands.
It is deemed that the first knives were born out of necessity. It was a tool that was used to hunt animals, cut them into pieces, and remove the hides which were used as clothing. They were also used for other purposes, such as for protection and in building shelters. Thus, as it is today, knives were considered as a general, all-purpose tool that was necessary for survival.
The Metal Age
After the Stone Age, humans started to discover metals and found that they have better properties as compared to stones and bones. This prompted the manufacture of the metal blades.
The first knives made of metal were crafted out of copper and bronze at around 3000-7000 BC. Much of the knives from this era looked pretty much the same as the knives we have and use today. They included a bolster and a tang and were fitted into wooden handles.
The Iron Age came next, and with this came the use of iron in crafting knives. Iron became the new material since it had several features which defeated those of bronze and copper. For instance, iron blades were known to be much more durable and had sharper edges as compared to their predecessors. In addition, iron knives held their sharp edges longer, which minimized the need to constantly sharpen them sometimes. Iron knives were crafted about 1000 BC, some with intricate designs (ceremonial knives were found amongst Roman artifacts, and were believed to have been used in many of their religious ceremonies.) Royalties were even buried with their knives, as was discovered in the tomb of King Tutankhamun where the king’s dagger rested with him.
Knives have come a long way since their first inception, from crude tools used for survival, to becoming religious implements used in rituals, and at present, common yet very useful paraphernalia used in a variety of modern-day industries. Without the knife or the bladed edge, life, as we know it today, may not exist.