Fences are a common sight across the globe, creating boundaries and marking land borders for many different reasons. Yet before the concept of private property arose, fences did not exist. The history of fencing goes back to the times of ancient civilizations, and the growing need to protect agricultural land. Today, fences are installed by fence services pros every day, and can be found in countless types and styles, for many different purposes. The origin of fences was for purely functional reasons; however, today’s fencing companies install fences for both practical and decorative purposes.
Before the Need for Fences
The history of the fence goes back to ancient civilizations like the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, tribal cultures and even the ancient German and European societies, where groups of people worked together to ensure the survival of the entire group. There were no land boundaries back then, and everyone tilled and tended the land together to grow food, sharing the harvests among themselves. The idea of private property did not exist, so there was no need to separate land parcels with fences. Yet this outlook began to change over time; and as it did, the need for fences arose. This was thought to be the actual beginning of true civilization as it is known today.
Fences - Protecting Property Boundaries
When man began to realize that the practice of continually tilling new land was unsustainable, the method of reusing the same fields by re-tilling and caring for them so they continued to produce, came into practice. Protecting these plots of land became a priority, as they required additional attention in order to keep them healthy and producing. This was the time when the first fences came into use.
Fences were erected for the first time around the borders of individual plots of cultivated agricultural fields, by individuals and families who then claimed ownership of these plots. This would be the first time in history that individuals or families claimed ownership of land that had previously been used as community property. It also brought about the first land feuds over property ownership.
The Adoption of Owned Property and Fences
Fences were initially invented for a very practical purpose, changing civilization with the concept of owned property. This way of claiming agricultural land for farming (and later for livestock grazing) eventually became the way all land was divided, visually marking all boundaries with fences. In India and other places in the east, fenced parcels could not be sold for a long time, as they were to be handed down within individual families.
In the 7th Century, the King of Rome stated that all men should surround their parcels with fences as a statement of ownership. These fences suggested value and property wealth. During the Middle Ages in Europe, all properties were to be marked with a fence boundary; and to remove a fence was a punishable offense. Fences also became an important way for marking range land and containing livestock in the United States, once cattle stealing became a problem for ranchers.
Over time, the purpose and value of fencing has changed; but the initial purpose of marking the boundaries of private property is still the most significant use for fencing. Fences installed by professional fence services has also become significant in demonstrating wealth or importance, depending on the type of fence and its cost. Today, fences of all types can be found on residential, rural and even urban properties, all acting to mark boundaries, just like the very first fences did!