Winters comes, and it’s time to start shoveling the snow again. You go to the garage, pick up the shovel, and wonder – who came up with this, who invented the shovel?
Well, it turns out the invention of the shovel is old.
Neolithic age-old old.
So, who invented the shovel?
Since we didn’t have any credible historians at that time (because they weren’t invented yet), we do not know who created the shovel for sure.
So, the credit for inventing the shovel goes to:
Neolithic Age people
It turns out the neolithic age people who lived in the 5th Millenium BCE needed something reliable to move dirt and snow around.
They realized their hands weren’t good at it, so they invented the shovel – probably using animal bones. And since animal bones weren’t durable enough for digging through snow, they attached two antlers of a stag to form a strong hook and dug away with that.
And then it spread.
People later saw that digging through the snow with antler hooks was working just fine. They invented the shovel themselves by attaching stones to the animal bones to make them heavier and more efficient when digging through dirt.
History of shovels
What happened after the Neolithic age people invented the shovel? Who invented the shovel in other parts of the world?
Well, it turns out one of the first versions of the modern-looking shovel (and who knows who came up with it) was excavated in Mesopotamia (modern Iran and Iraq). It dates to between 7000-9000 BCE – that’s 9000 years before our time.
The earliest known type is a digging stick, dating back about 30,000 years ago. The term “digging-stick” loosely describes several different tools used since prehistoric times to obtain buried foodstuffs or other commodities such as peat or mineral ores. Often these tools may also have been used as weapons. They are among the world’s oldest manufactured wooden artifacts, dating to 10,000 BCE, when human ancestors lived in the stone age.
In the early Mesolithic, the first shovels appeared around 9000-8000 BCE. It was known as either an Ulu or a Pete / Pele. It wasn’t yet standardized because it depended on who invented it. Some people used antlers while others bones of other large mammals.
Ok, but who invented the shovel that looks like the one we use today?
By the time of the Bronze age (around 1800-1000 BCE), the materials used to make shovels were standardized around Europe – it was made of bronze instead of stone or bone.
With the start of the Iron Age, the shovel became even more efficient. During this era, shovels were constructed using wood, and then later metal (iron), replacing digging sticks.
The wooden-handled shovel was called a spade. It probably came around during Pre-Roman times who used it to dig up plants and build houses. However, there is no credible evidence of who invented it or gave it its name.
Around the 16th century, the pre-industrial revolution, people invented steam engines to power mechanical diggers via crankshafts. It was making them dead useful for mining industries which started growing so fast since the mass production of steel began in England. A standard design was developed based on earlier digging instruments like hoes, which had adopted iron cutting edges, and the shovel was born.
Until 1902, a patent for this type of shovel was issued to JH Carver, who added metal cutting edges to an existing design. With its curved “D” shape metal blade, the modern shovel made it easier for people who are digging in confined spaces or who are not as strong.
Today’s most famous brand is probably Bulldog Tools. They make many shovels, including spades, forks, and hoes, all with high quality, functionality, and design standards.
Types of shovels
Many types of shovels have different shapes and sizes. Some of the most well-known ones are:
The snow shovel is designed to remove snow from surfaces. It can either be a plastic blade or metal, which are lifted and tossed away from the area being cleared. This type of shovel was invented in 1963 by Robert Carr, who wanted to create an ergonomic design that was easy to use for people who were not as strong.
The coal shovel is used mainly around mining sites with large amounts of coal on them that need to be disposed of into carts or trucks loaded with it. Some coal shovels were adapted to double up as a loader bucket with teeth on its lip similar to ones on a bulldozer’s scoop, which was capable of tearing through soft ground and rock. Shovels also came in many different sizes depending on which part of the world they used and who their primary customers were.
The trenching shovel is shaped like a spade with either a T or D shape, often having holes in the blade to make it lighter. During wars, soldiers used it as a primary tool for digging ditches and trenches as part of defensive lines who wanted protection from enemy fire. The trenching shovel was invented back around World War 2. However, some say German forces influenced its design during World War 1.
A scoop shovel is a “hand digger” because it can be gripped between one hand and the shaft with the other hand. It’s easier for people to use it independently without needing someone else’s help. Since they have short handles, people often have to bend over while using them, making it a whole lot harder to dig with.
The edging shovel is often called a spade and looks like a spade bit with a shorter handle. It’s meant to dig narrow trenches, only around 14 inches deep. It is helpful for vegetable gardeners to make long trenches to plant their vegetables in.
Palm Pick Shovel
The palm pick is similar to a standard steel pick attached to the back of the user’s hand, making it easier for them to dig into places where their feet can’t reach. It was initially designed by Filipino laborers back in 1945 on sugar plantations. It was later adopted by American construction workers who needed an extra pair of hands when digging the tough ground.
The Border Spade has another smaller spade blade attached to its handle And’s usually made from a different type of metal or plastic. The smaller shovel is used for digging in tight spaces, especially when the ground is too hard for standard shovels because it provides more force behind each swing.
Scoop Shoe Shovel
This type of shovel is similar to a snow shovel but with a shorter handle and no flat end on the leading edge. It can be used to clear snow and other materials like dirt and stones, which makes it worthwhile if someone wants to do some DIY projects around their home or garden.
A Trench Spade is shaped like a regular spade. The shaft has been extended to allow the shovel to rest on the user’s shoulder while they’re digging. It was designed for soldiers who had to search long trenches in World War 1 and could be stacked on top of one another, allowing them to stand up straight while resting.
There you go, now you know who invented the shovel and how it evolved! If you are invested in finding more interesting facts about who invented stuff around you, check out the articles below!