The Dawn of Knot Tying

Tying knots likely began long before the dawn of history when Neolithic man tied a stone onto a stick, (creating perhaps humans first invention).

Rope and Knot Tying - Mans First Tools

Knots in history have been associated with primitive religion, folklore, magic, superstitions, to cure evil, even to wave off sickness. Yes, to cure illness or to cause it.

Tying knots has numerous of uses. From construction of bridges and houses, to determine days, weeks and year. Calculating business deals and to keep track or tally on items. A recent study has found that man is not the only species to tie knots, that gorillas use them to hold creepers and saplings down in their nests. In one nest two dozen knots were counted, most were grannies but some were square knots. There is a bird that ties knots to fasten their nest. There are still primitive races who fasten their huts, traps and even clothing with knots.

Knotting is an Important Addition to Modern Everyday Life

The only actual knot descriptions that could be found before the 18th century, was in a medical treatise. Compiled in the 4th century a physician describing slings. What makes this writing unique, is that the knots described were nine different knots used in sixteen different slings. A square knot, overhand noose, larks head, clove hitch, overhand knot, fisherman loop knot, Tom fool knot, jug sling and a cat cradle. The year of this writing concluded was 386 AD, but perhaps this writing was based on even earlier writings.

The Hercules Knot

Hercules Knot or Square Knot

The art of knot tying is age old, but still new, fun and a very handy thing to know. One of the earliest knots that is recorded in history is referred to as the Hercules knot. If you visit Rome or a museum that has Roman artifacts you’ll notice that this Hercules knot is worked into many of their potteries and statues.

The Hercules knot is now referred to as a square knot or reef knot once called a medical knot as it was used in tying bandages. It’s a useful and easy-to-tie knot, often used to join two lines together. Although you can find better knots for this purpose in fact a reef knot could be a dangerous knot to tie.


Even today’s world of knots, rope is a part of every day living.

Knots have been associated with the sea. Lives have depended upon the reliability of the ships lines and the crews ability to fasten or to secure them. Aboard the average recreational vessel you will find a series of knots and lines; the anchor rode, boat line, the fenders and even on the boat’s bell has a line attachment. If you look at a sailing vessel closely knots are located at the boom, on sails, shrouds and even the tiller. If the crew is spending a considerable amount of time aboard you will start to see some fancy work on prominent parts of the vessel.