The history of the knife

The history of the knife

What is the origin of the knife? 

In the construction of our world, the sun and the earth were created at the same time 4.5 billion years ago. The first life forms appeared on earth 3.5 billion years ago and man came into existence about 200,000 years ago.
In the course of its incredible evolution, man has created many things that are essential to his survival, including one that still fascinates us today:
the modern knife about 25,000 years ago.
In the earliest ages, over 2 million yearsago, the knife was a basic object that served as a tool as well as a weapon and was made of stone, flint, obsidian or bone.
Its primary functions, which are the characteristics of the knife, were to cut, scrape and pierce.
This may seem trivial, but it has enabled humans to be able to hunt, fish, find food, build shelters and even defend themselves.
The knife therefore has a great deal to do with our evolution because it has allowed us to provide for our primary needs and has given us more time to develop other skills that make us what we are today.

What is the evolution of the knife in human history? 

The knife has for a long time been the result of stones or bones being broken to create a sharp edge.
It was not until the Upper Paleolithic(35,000 to 10,000 BC) that the knife as we know it today in terms of shape and balance appeared.
During the Bronze and Copper Age(2700 to 900 B.C.) techniques were perfected and metal took on an essential role in human life and in the manufacture of knives.
However, as the sharpness of metal is not as durable as that of stone, the use of whetstone to maintain tools began to develop.
During the Iron Age (beginning around 1200 BC), tools and especially knives became much sharper, stronger and more durable over time.
Iron-alloyed steel, obtained by rubbing carbon onto the iron blade during the manufacturing process, is the most common material used in knives and other types of edged weapons today.
Nowadays, new materials are used in the cutlery industry: cobalt alloys, titanium blades and many others. However, steel blades are still considered the most durable and efficient and are the most common material used for blades of all types. This is why since the invention of the iron blade, our knives have changed very little.
A notable development in the history of the knife is the relatively recent invention of the folding knife over 600 years ago.
These folding knives have evolved during this period with better locking mechanisms, stronger attachments, better handle designs, etc., but the concept remains the same today. 

How did the knife develop in France?

Knives have been fashioned all over the world, either empirically or by hand. This utensil was originally made by blacksmiths, blacksmiths or ironmongers, specialists in metalwork.
It was not until the 9th century in France that craftsmen specialising in the creation and manufacture of knives appeared: cutlers.
At that time, the fork did not yet exist since it appeared during the Renaissance, and people ate either with their fingers or with a knife.
This is why some knives had a very typical blade shape with an indentation that allowed them to prick the food, especially in dishes with sauce.
The Montmirail knife from Astelle Montmirail takes up this characteristic as a nod to the past. You can find it on our website
Generally speaking, man has always used knives in his daily life and until the Middle Ages this tool was used for eating as well as for hunting. The points were therefore sharpened to enable food to be pricked with the help, sometimes, of a spoon.
It seems that Cardinal Richelieu, tired of seeing his guests picking their teeth with their knives, ordered his butler to file the knives. Linked to this anecdote, the round-tipped table knife appeared, and this fashion was adopted by the French and Louis XIV at the end of the 17th century.
Today's table knives are usually moderately sharp, made of stainless steel and designed to cut only food of common texture.
The first folding knives found in France date back to the Merovingian period, around the year 360. Two of them are in the Normandy Museum in Caen and were reproduced by Pascal Turpin who later created the Normandy folding knife.
The folding knife remained very rare until the 15th century, when the hammer and pestle appeared, accompanied by a drop in the price of steel.
Indeed, before this period, steel was 5 times more expensive than gold and 40 times more expensive than silver.
Subsequently, folding knives have developed in many regions of France and are now incredibly diverse.
The Astelle Montmirail team
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