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Gunpowder is an explosive mixture of saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal. Gunpowder has been used for numerous purposes throughout history, including in firearms, cannons, explosives, and fireworks. Gunpowder revolutionized how wars were fought and changed weaponry forever.

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Few inventions throughout history has had as great of an impact as gunpowder. Gunpowder originates back to the Tang Dynasty of China in the 9th century and was initially used as the basis for fireworks. Although the earliest use was for celebratory purposes, gunpowder quickly spread throughout Eurasia as a military propellant. By the end of the 12th century, gunpowder became widely used on the battlefield in the forms of fire arrows and bombs.

With the invention of gunpowder, the battlefield would never be the same. Gunpowder became the catalyst for every bullet fired, bomb detonated, and mine exploded. Once gunpowder became utilized by military forces, it became almost essential for any type of victory; weaponry powered by gunpowder is superior in power to traditional projectiles and melee weapons. Eventually, firearms could be used by infantry, causing devastating effects.

Besides the use of gunpowder on the battlefield, it also became essential for naval warfare. As global superpowers would soon find out, in order to control the lucrative trading routes of the open seas, ships needed to be equipped with superior cannon power. The invention of gunpowder altered the strength and potential of military powers throughout the world.

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Uses of Gunpowder

  • Fireworks
  • Bombs
  • Cannons
  • Mortar Shells
  • Muskets and Other Firearms
  • Hand Grenades
  • Fuses
  • Special Effects
Learn more about inventions and discoveries that have changed the world in our Picture Encyclopedia of Innovations!
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