A Short History of Engraving

Engraving has been a popular form of decoration for thousands of years, but where did it all start? The first evidence of engraving is over 500,000 years old when people would carve stones and other hard objects to honour gods and leaders.

Throughout history owning engraved goods has been a way to show wealth and in ancient Egypt gemstones were intricately carved with images of wealthy and influential people. This style of carving, commonly called a cameo, has remained popular to this day.

Historically, engraved seals have also been used to signify wealth and for many thousands of years powerful families have had their own seals engraved. These were then pressed into hot wax to seal letters and show who the correspondence had come from.

In the past, engraving was used to decorate everyday objects and all sorts of fascinating artefacts which feature engraving have been uncovered. In South America various engraved objects made of jade have been discovered, such as engraved masks, plaques and even earplugs!

As well as being used for decoration, engraving has also been utilised to record historical events. In Egypt, engraved scarabs were popularly worn around the necks of the wealthy. These beetle shaped jewellery items featured engravings on the underside which denoted important events that had taken place, giving historians a fascinating and invaluable insight into Ancient Egyptian society.

The simplest way to engrave is by hand, this is also the most common type of engraving that has been used throughout history. Hand engraving is achieved through a combination of a sharp tool and human strength and skill. A hammer and chisel is also commonly used for this type of engraving.

Today, different types of engraving which use technology have been established. Machines like lasers can be used to engrave all types of objects with highly intricate designs. Engraved gifts are still very popular and are often still used to commemorate special events, for example on trophy’s for sporting events.

On a more personal level engraved gifts are often given to commemorate an anniversary, wedding on birth of a new baby. The ancient practice of engraving is as popular now as it was half a million years ago and as technology advances engraving techniques grow ever more detailed and elaborate.

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