Gunpowder and Weaponry

Gunpowder and Weaponry

Gunpowder and Weaponry

Gunpowder and Weaponry

Excerpt

Few inventions have had so profound an effect on the fate of nations as gunpowder. Within a hundred years after the first practical gunpowder weapons were developed, the nature of war was irrevocably altered. In another hundred years the people who were responsible for the creation of this powerful and terrifying new weapon had begun to dominate the world in a way that continues to the present day. To support the new style of warfare, new industries came into being. Not only did nations change, but the very idea of a nation was, at least in part, a result of the train of events that began with the development of gunpowder weapons. Gunpowder, indeed, changed the world.

Gunpowder and other explosives are not just used for war. Without explosives the foundations for modern buildings, modern roads, railroads, bridges, and much else would have been much harder, in some cases impossible, to construct. Explosives have been important to mining, and without them the Panama Canal could never have been dug. Indeed, gunpowder itself vastly increased humans’ ability to hunt game, crucial to the early settlement of the Americas among other things. But the primary use of gunpowder, as the name itself suggests, has been for weapons of war.

War has almost certainly been a part of human life since humans have existed. In fact, war preceded humans: colonies of ants and other insects battled each other, and it came as a great shock to zoologists when the primatologist . . .

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