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A brief history of the shovel

Shop for Shovels

Neolithic Age (ca. 10,000 – 3,000 BC approx.)

New Stone age people The shovel has been used in many cultures throughout the history of mankind.During the Neolithic Age, people started farming, building communities, producing goods and trading.
The scapula of an Ox Archaeological findings of the discarded shoulder blades of large animals such as the ox date back to Neolithic times and the advent of farming. These bones would have served as crude shovels for moving rocks and soil, grubbing for food and for burying the dead.
Wonkee Donkee says 'Although we’re unable to determine the origin of the shovel, it’s safe to say that it has been around ever since we started digging in the earth!'

The Cherokee Indians

The pelvic bone of a large animal was adapted to make a shovel
The Cherokee Indians used the pelvic bones and shoulder blades of large animals to make shovels. Deer ligaments or leather straps were attached the bones to wooden sticks three to four feet in length.However, these tools faded out in the Middle Ages when iron technology appeared.

Bronze Age (ca. 3,000 – 1,000 BC approx.)

A Bronze Age shovel unearthed at Alderley Copper Mines in Cheshire.
Recent discoveries of Bronze Age tools have provided further evidence of prehistoric mining practices and the extraction of metal from its ore.A wooden shovel – discovered at Alderley Edge copper mines in Cheshire – has been dated back to approximately 1750 BC.

Iron Age (1,200 BC – 100 AD approx.)

An example of a smelting pit design used for smelting iron ore
The Iron Age began in South West Asia once smelting pit designs had progressed enough to produce the higher temperatures required to smelt iron ore.The new iron technology radiated across the rest of the world over centuries without ever reaching the New World (the Americas).
The Lynn Acres prehistoric furnace prior to excavation in 1992. However, ancient iron smelting furnaces and iron implements, such as a shovel, unearthed in Ohio, are more than 600 years old.This suggests that an iron age civilisation of Scandinavian origin may have existed in pre-Columbus America.
A product designer at work It is quite clear, then, that the blueprint for a shovel has not come from a product designer’s drawing board!It is a basic tool which has evolved throughout history. Nowadays, there are numerous types of shovel that can be used for a variety of different jobs.

The only real progress in the evolution of the shovel would have been the move towards using metal in its construction.

The Transport Revolution (1800 – 1900)

Using shovels to pave the way for canals Before the invention of powered steam shovels and the modern excavator, the hand shovel paved the way for canals, roads and railways.In mid-nineteenth century Britain, the shovel was being used to shift thousands of tonnes of earth every day to build the railways we use today.

The father of scientific management

Engineer and business theorist, Frederick Winslow Taylor, developed the notion of best shovelling practice and applied science to the shovelling, lifting and carrying of heavy materials. It wasn’t until the 1890s that the idea of designing different-sized scoops according to the density and texture of the materials being shovelled was introduced.Engineer and business theorist, Frederick Winslow Taylor, developed the notion of best shovelling practice and applied science to the shovelling, lifting and carrying of heavy materials.

His ideas impacted workers and the industrial elite significantly.

A steam shovel is the earliest type of excavator Extensive mechanisation of manual labour soon changed commercial management but the principles of the science of hand shovelling can still be applied today.