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Cordage in
the Tool Box

What Is A Tool, Anyway?

Humankind has survived successfully because within our cultures we use many different types of tools. Tools are used all of the time by peoples living everywhere on Earth. Some types of tools are quite ordinary, but many are amazingly unexpected.

Humans are not the only creatures which use tools. Birds build nests, and nests are tools. Chimpanzees chew leaves and then use the partly chewed leaves to soak up water to drink; the leaves are tools. Gorillas ‘fish' for ants using a twig; the twig is a tool. So, what is a tool, anyway?

A tool is anything which has been modified to make work or survival easier. Everything which has been modified or manipulated by a human or animal becomes a tool.

Tools can be incredibly simple; such as a length of cordage used to make a net. Some tools are incredibly complex; consider the computer used to write these words into sentences. There are some tools that are not immediately obvious as being tools; like clothing, blankets, fire, shelters and houses.

Tools are used in complex tasks. Tools are used to skin the hide from a deer, which is sewn together using an awl and sinew thread to make clothing. Consider the saw which cuts the wood, which is hammered into place as a house is built. The knife, awl, sinew thread, hammer and saw are all tools used to fabricate other tools like clothing and shelter. All of these tools have been modified and manipulated to make work and survival easier.

Cordage was one of those important tools ensuring survival .

Somewhere Between a Plant Fiber and a Tool

Many of the tools used by The People in Idaho were made from plant fibers. Plants like dogbane was pounded to produce fine, tough fibers that were twisted, by repeated rubbing on the thigh, into longer strands that could be used to make cordage. Through use of knots, this cordage was transformed, through weaving, into a variety of useful and beautiful objects.

Cordage became carrying bags, nets for ensnaring animals, parts of nooses and traps, and elements of composite tools of different materials. Cordage was also woven and tied into clothing like aprons, skirts and capes.

Today, we most often find stone tools in the archaeological record, either on the ground or hidden in the soil layers of an archaeological excavation. However, The People mostly used tools of perishable materials made of plant fibers like cordage and basketry. Consequently, many of the tools made using cordage are not preserved in the archaeological record.

Drills were one of the complex tools used made from several different materials, including cordage.

Let's Learn About The Hand Drill