hoe, usually a flat blade, variously shaped, set in a long wooden handle and used primarily for weeding and for loosening the soil. It was the first distinctly agricultural implement. The earliest hoes were forked sticks. Heavy flaked-stone implements mounted with bitumen were used in Mesopotamia in the 5th millennium B.C. They occur together with flint-bladed sickles and grinding stones—all of which are indications of farming settlements. Hoe blades were made of animal antlers and scapulae, or shoulder blades, and of shells. Variations on the hoe, such as the pick, the adz, and the plow, appeared as the blade progressed from stone to copper, bronze, iron, and steel. Modern garden hoes are of two types, the drag hoe and the thrust hoe. Truck farms use light scraping hoes, chopping hoes, and multibladed hoes, and in large-scale agriculture a cultivating implement called a rotary hoe is used for weeding. The hoe symbolizes the garden horticulture that sustained high civilizations, such as those of pre-Columbian America.
See M. Partridge, Farm Tools Through the Ages (1973).