Knife History

Knives are the best and simple tools known throughout history of mankind. They were either used as a weapon or tool. Earlier knives were developed during Stone Age and were used for hunting animals such as deer, squirrels, fishes, birds, etc. and for carving wood and cutting vegetation. Although there is some debate among scholars that the invention of knife (though in its primitive form) predates even invention of fire.

The first form of knives that were designed by humans were made of stones and bones of animals. These were more primarily carved as weapons to hunt animals. Different forms of these weapons were spears, dagger and knife, etc. which were primarily made of sharp stones. The first flint knife made by humans is found to be 5000 years old. Flint is a special form of mineral quartz which is very hard.

The advent of Bronze Age and Iron Age brought new technology in making knives. As metals were easy to melt and mould, inclusion of metals gave higher efficiency in making knives. Some special advantages of metal knives were that they could be made even, in any designated shape and size, and could be sharpened easily. But the problems with these were that they could not be used for a long period of time as they used to get rust and their edges used to get dull frequently and easily. Later new metal technologies like steel and carbon steel were used to resolve these issues.

Though knives were used as general purpose tool during prehistoric times, different new forms of knives were developed during modern times in large varieties. Few examples of these are table knife, butcher’s knife, carving knife, chef’s knife, bread knife and electric knife. Scalpel, switch blades, straight razor, pocket knife, machete, electrician’s knife, bowie knife and crooked knife are some example of knives used as specific purpose tools. There are some kinds of knives also which are used as traditional or religious implements like Kripan - a ceremonial knife that a Sikh must wear, Kilaya – a Tibetan Buddhist’s dagger, Sgian Dubh – a traditionally worn small dagger with highland dress and Athame – a double-edged, black-handled ritual knife used in Wicca.

Here are some more popular types of knives evolved during distinct periods of history.
Utility knife – made of stone evolved during 50,000 years
Pocket knife – first used by early Iron Age human
Scalpel – ancient Egyptians first used for embalming
Uluit – also known as woman’s knife first used during 2500BC
Steak knife – first used in medieval period in Europe
Peasant knife – in pre-Roman era
Lock-blade knife – during 15th century
Push dagger – evolved around 16th century in India
Slip-joint knife – first used during 1600 in England
Table knife – attributed to tradition by Cardinal Richelieu
Straight razor – first developed in 1680 by a manufacturer Sheffield in England
Bowie knife – first used in 1830 in Arkansas
Switchable knife – first spring loaded knife came into picture in mid-18th century
Electric knife – invented in mid-19th century
Knives undoubtedly would be humans’ perfect acquaintance forever. It not only pushes the limit by increasing human capability to carve, sculpt and modify materials like wood, vegetation and other soft supplies (which humans cannot do by themselves) but also can be used as safety tool in situations.