A rope is defined as a length of fibers all twisted and braided around each other to create a thicker strand which is capable of pulling, tying and connecting. Rope is used for hunting, pulling, fastening, attaching, carrying, lifting and climbing. The use of rope for these purposes has been dated back to prehistoric times, and has always been essential to mans progression. The first ropes were probably long pieces of vine all twisted and braided together. There is evidence showing that the first ropes date all the way back to 17,000BC. The ancient Egyptians were probably the first civilization to develop tools for constructing ropes in 4000BC. They made ropes out of water reeds, grass, leather and animal hair. The Egyptians used these ropes to construct their colossal pyramids that still stand today. In 2800BC, the Chinese made ropes used from hemp fibers. After this, rope making spread throughout all of Asia, India and Europe.
During the Middle Ages (13th to 18th century), Europeans constructed their ropes in very long buildings called rope walks. The rope strands were laid out from one end of the building to the next and twisted until rope was formed. This allowed for strands of rope to be as long as 300yards. Ropes this long were needed because of the large ships that were used virtually everyday. Trying to use a short rope on a huge boat would be useless and pointless.
Remarkable feats were completed with the use of rope before humans had advanced technology. Domenico Fontana created the 327 ton obelisk on Rome's Saint Peters Square using 900 men, 75 horses, and endless lengths of rope. Leonardo da Vinci drew sketches of a rope building machine, but like most of his inventions, it never got built. However, by the late 1700's, several machines for making rope had been constructed for use.
Rope was still made from natural fibers until the 1950's when synthetic materials started being used. Although thousands of years has passed since rope making was first created, how we make and use ropes today stays virtually unchanged except for the materials and technology we use. Today commonly used fibers for making rope include, manila, hemp, linen, cotton, coir, jute, nylon, polypropylene, polyethylene, Kevlar and polyester. Some ropes are a mixture of these fabrics, while others are constructed out of metal. Metal ropes are used for jobs that require more strength and less give.