Originating from China, gunpowder is the earliest known chemical explosive. It is an exceptionally crucial segment in human evolution, as humans have turned to greed and destroyed each other. It was invented during the late Tang Dynasty. The earliest recorded chemical formula for gunpowder goes back to the Song Dynasty. The invention of gunpowder has shaped human history in a way that can never be forgotten.
Originating from China, gunpowder is the earliest known chemical explosive. It is made from a mixture of sulfur, carbon, and potassium nitrate. Nowadays, it is more commonly known as black powder as to differentiate between the smokeless powder used modernly. It is an exceptionally crucial segment in human evolution, as humans turned to greed and destroyed each other.
There is limited information about its origin, yet historians believe that gunpowder came from China. It was invented during the late Tang Dynasty, which is the 9th century, yet the earliest recorded chemical formula for gunpowder dates back to the Song Dynasty in the 11th century. It is more commonly used for explosives, fire arrows, bombs, etc. All these weapons were operated until the arrival of the gun. Bombs had not developed at a fast pace and eventually progressed into modern-day weapons like the grenade. The guns, however, continued to express more and more generations of them, leading to the development of extensive artillery pieces during the 15th century, established by states such as the Duchy of Burgundy. Firearms came into play around the 17th century, dominating early modern warfare around Europe. Improvement of cannons firing harder blows for a greater collision against defences led to the invention of the star fort and the bastion in the Western world, where old-fashioned city walls and castles were no longer suitable for defence. The use of gunpowder technology also spread throughout the Islamic empire, India, Korea, and Japan. The alleged gunpowder empires of the early modern period consisted of the Mughal empire, the Safavid empire and the Ottoman Empire.
The impact on the world due to gunpowder was mostly a curse, despite what some believe. It completely changed the face of warfare in Europe and played a crucial and destructive role during the age of exploration and colonial expansion. This led to many deaths and bloodshed with the discovery of the Americas and later the colonization by the European powers, along with the European exploitation of African nations through the introduction of gunpowder weaponry, all to promote warfare and the slave trade. This caused 12 million Africans - the majority males, to be sent towards the Americas between the 16th and 19th centuries, which placed Africa in a political, social, and economic situation close to disaster. After that, around the late 19th century, the use of gunpowder died out, being replaced by the invention of smokeless powder.
Overall, the invention of gunpowder has shaped human history in a way that can never be forgotten, despite the use of smokeless powder these days. Although it represents a major portion of human intelligence, it also represents greed, power, hatred, bitterness, and war. Even if the smokeless powder has taken many lives, we should never forget what exactly led to and started the foundation of warfare.
Aishath Amna, 13, is part of the Leaders of Tomorrow programme, which was started by the first scientist of Maldives, Professor Hassan Ugail. She has particularly enjoyed writing this piece and hopes to do more in the future. In her spare time, she likes to read, sketch, make funny comics and make (and eat) brownies.
Cite this article as:
Aishath Amna, Gunpowder, theCircle Composition, Volume 2, (2022). https://thecirclecomposition.org/gunpowder-2/