The story of knives and how they transformed from stone to metals

Knives are ageless tools that humans have been using for millions of years. Sharpened stones were the first form of knives, and the oldest one dates back 2.5 million years ago. Tanzania in Africa was the first place of discovery of the ancient knives that were later found in other parts of Africa. Chopper was the oldest type of knife made from stone that had the flakes removed to form a sharp edge.  The chopper helped cut plants and butcher animals. As civilization progressed, the material of knives started changing, and new items like flint, bone, and obsidian made to the list of knife making materials that gradually replaced rocks that were the primary material for the tools. 

The early uses of knife and their evolution

The discovery of the knife was a great leap forward because the tool was essential for human survival. The primary uses of a knife were for shelter construction, food preparation, and combat. The discovery of fire accelerated the evolution of knives as a stone that used to be the primary material for making knives started to give way to newer materials like metals that could produce better knives by melting and forging.  Although bronze knives lacked durability and became dull due to corrosion, they could be designed to give a long and thin shape with superior sharpness. Over the centuries, bronze made way for iron and steel as the chosen material for knives. Iron and steel are still the most preferred material for knife making, although newer materials like titanium and tungsten are also suitable.

Early knife types

The knives of the early times consisted of a fixed blade which gave it the name of sheath knife. The tang extended into the handle added more strength to the knife than other types of knives, and the lack of moving parts ensure the higher durability of the knife. Then came a time when people fell in love with folding knives with a unique design that allowed the blade to fold back within a groove in the handle. The pivot at the junction of the blade and handle facilitated the process of folding.  Both types of knives are available today, and folding knives have special attraction because of the ease of using them for outdoor activities like foraging and hunting.  The Chef knife that we commonly see now is a typical example of a sheath knife, which is now a standard for home kitchens and professional use.

 Modern knives

The range of materials for knife making has increased with time, and today, a variety of materials like iron, steel, bronze, titanium, copper, and even ceramics have become popular. The knives are either fixed blade construction or folding type. The construction of knives has undergone massive change by using technology that helps produce superior quality knives that last longer but maintain the sharpness of the cutting edge for a longer time.

A massive change observed in the knife industry is that designers now focus more on aesthetic over functionality.

Photo by William Choquette from Pexels

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