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What Is The History of Knives, Forks and Spoons

What Is The History of Knives, Forks and Spoons

Knives, Forks and Spoons.

You use them every day. 

They're some of the most simple, but useful, devices in existence. 

They're used the world over. 

Tracing the reliance and development of human eating tools requires going down an archaeological rabbit hole. 

If we narrow our search to cutlery - like the knife, spoon and fork in our modern Western conception - what do we find?

And who, exactly, invented knives, forks and spoons?

 

Spoons

 

Spoons are one of the oldest eating utensils on the planet. 

One of the oldest objects in the British Museum in London is an Olduvai stone cutting tool found in an early human camp in Tanzania. 

It is thought to be 1.8 million years old. 

Experts believe the tool may have been used as an early knife to cut the meat of large animals, or to smash bones for marrow fat - an important part of the early human diet.

 

The spoon is one of the oldest eating utensils; it is not difficult to imagine early man making the leap from natural spoons such as shells or stones to spoons made of wood, animal horns and eventually metal, adding handles in the process.

 

One of the oldest spoons preserved in a museum is believed to be a pair made from mammoth ivory found in the Paleolithic site of Avdeevo in Russia, discovered in the late 1940s. 

The spoons are believed to be about 21,000 years old. 

As early as the 1st century, Romans were fashioning spoons with handles from silver – you can see a set of silver spoons that are about 2,000 years old the next time you visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

 

Forks

 

The most recent addition to the common cutlery club is the fork. 

Although they have technically existed since ancient times, these preliminary specimens consisted of a mere two prongs and were used primarily for cooking and serving food. 

Fingers, spoons and knives were still the most popular choices when it came to actual eating.

 

Forks are the new kid on the block when it comes to utensils used specifically for eating. 

The Ancient Egyptians and the Quijia culture of present-day China were early pioneers of table forks. 

Forks were once viewed as a little scandalous and not without controversy.

 

Thankfully, nowadays the fork and its cutlery counterparts carry a lot less spiritual baggage. 

And there are also more options for different colors. 

Material,Styles,Finishes, etc., to meet the needs of different people around the world.

 

Knives

 

Knives have dually been utilized as both a weapon and an eating implement since prehistoric times. 

This is quite logical – you kill your food and then cut it into conveniently sized pieces with one handy tool. 

However, knives weren’t domesticated or fashioned exclusively for table use until the Bourbon Dynasty in France. 

Up until this point, they were typically incredibly sharp due to their aforementioned use in killing one’s food.

 

Of course, when forks began gaining in popularity during the Middle Ages, this resulted in less of a need for a pointed knife during meal times. 

As such, in 1669, Louis XIV- the same guy who loved doing up his hair and wearing tights and high heels as was the manly fashion at the time- made these overly sharp knives illegal at the table and replaced them with blunter / wider ones. 

This has for the most part remained the norm up until the present day, though the standardized stainless steel variety weren’t introduced until around the 20th century.


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