Remarkable Archaeology: Hunting Knives

Remarkable Archaeology: Hunting Knives

Via: Stag Knife One by Stag Knives

Hunting is one of humanity’s longest cultural pursuits, and it's what we needed to survive before we found other ways of living through agriculture and other means. So with that, hunting knives has been around for just as long; originally made from stone, wood, shell and bone before the Iron Age, we find great hunting knives in the archaeological record worth celebrating. Then with the metallurgy inventions of bronze, iron and other strong metals, we saw the emergence of metal blades still being made today. So, we present to you remarkable archaeology: hunting knives. 

Southern Levant Paleolithic Hunting Knife (c 7500–4500 BC)

Via: Neolithic or Chalcolithic knife from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This flit hunting knife was uncovered from the Southern Levant and is dated around the same time civilization merged in the region. Dated a few thousand years ago, the adoption of agriculture and settlements popped up in this region, so this blade is an important maker of this history. 

A Prehistoric Cutter From The Bronze Age

Via: Knife, from British Museum.

This stone knife was excavated from a site in Kent, UK, uncovered in 1859 from a long barrow burial. Dated to the Bronze Age (3,500 BC - 1,200 BC), this ovoid knife was flaked from flint. It was likely used to prepare the funeral feast that included the flaying and slaughter of animals during the ceremonial burial of the barrow inhabitants. 

Ancient Egyptian Knife (c 3,200 BC)

Via: Egyptian knife, British Museum.

This knife was uncovered from Sheikh Hamadeh and is made of a flint blade with an ivory hilt. Made during the Naqada II culture in Egypt around 3,200 BC, they were well-known for their incredible flint knife technology. The hilt is intricately carved with a band showing lions, elephants, cranes, sheep, cattle and other beasts. Because it is so fine, assuming this was a ceremonial knife is safe. 

Ancient Roman Knife (Late Roman 3rd Century AD)

Via: Late Roman knife from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This striking knife was made of a steel blade and a copper alloy hilt and was likely used for preparing food, such as cutting fruit. The blade is decorated with a repeating triangle band along the blunt side, with the intricate decoration of the copper hilt. You can see the hilt as the profile of a forearm reaching out of the back of the blade with the sleeve, wrist and hand grabbing an orb. 

A Cabinet of Medieval Knives (1406)

Via: Knife case at the British Museum.

This case of knives contains Medieval French blades dated to roughly 1406. These were held in a leather case and made of wood, silver, enamel and iron, likely used for food preparation with varying blade sizes. 

Eastern Tibet Vajra Flaying Knife (15th Century)

Via: Vajra Flaying Knife, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This incredible 15th-century Vajra Flaying Knife was made in Eastern Tibet, Derge. Its blade is made of steel styled in a classical Indian manner with a long-hooked blade designed for flaying and butchering. Because of the inlaid silver and gold to the top of the blade and the wide-jawed sea monster (makara) hilt, known as a Vajra in ritual Buddhist traditions, one can confidently say this was used only for exceptional ceremonies. 

A Medieval French Dagger (Late 15th Century)

Dagger, Steel, bronze, bone, French

Via: Dagger, from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

During the Medieval period, men and women often wore short blades like a knife or daggers on their person for many reasons. One might think it was just for protection, but these were useful for everyday tasks like eating or cutting rope. This particular example is a borderline between a knife and a dagger. However, it was likely intended for dagger usage with the length of the blade and the crossguard. Moreover, it was made from bronze, steel and bone.

Javanese Knife (16th–19th century)

Knife, Wood, gold, steel, Javanese

Via: Javanese knife from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This knife came from Java, made from wood, gold and steel, and is dated from the 16th through to the 19th century. One can assume that the gold wrapped around the edge of the wooden hilt and the steel blade indicates this was an implement for ceremonial or social purposes. Moreover, the holes on the blade allow for less friction during the cutting process, just being a point of interest to the knife’s overall design. 

Ceremonial Knife with Sheath (1750 - 1800)


From Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka), this intricate ceremonial knife was one of many made during the late 18th century. The rulers of Ceylon employed highlight talented artisans from the Four Workshops guild to help craft incredible knives such as this shown above. This one is made from a steel blade and bone or ivory hilt. Because of how precious these blades were, you can bet they were never used except as costume display in court. 

Syrian Knife (18th - 19th Century)

Knife, Steel, bone, Syrian

Via: Syrian knife from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Made from steel and bone, this attractive double-bladed Syrian knife is unique compared to others on this list. These blades are called Haladies and were used by warriors in the Indian Rajput clans and were great for both stabbing and slicing. 

Final Remarks: Remarkable Archaeology: Hunting Knives

Free Natural History Museum London photo and picture

Via: Free photo on Pixabay.

Hunting knives are some of the most remarkable archaeology that has survived to tell us about humanity's long and fascinating history. From the development of early stone knives to the robust metal-forged blades we see today, we can learn a lot about how people lived and how they learnt to make tools more efficiently with the emergence of civilization around 10,000 years ago.

Consider our Stag One blade if you love these knives and want to get your own. 

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