Ancient China Essay

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One of the most important inventions of all time was the invention of gunpowder. "Imagine their enemy's surprise when the Chinese first demonstrated their newest invention in the eighth century AD. Chinese scientists discovered that an explosive mixture could be produced by combining sulfur, charcoal, and saltpeter (potassium nitrate). The military applications were clear. New weapons were rapidly developed, including rockets and others that were launched from a bamboo tube" (Franklin Institute). The Chinese are known for their inventions that still are used in the modern day. Those inventions are paper, gunpowder, books, and much more.

Gunpowder was discovered in the tenth century by Chinese medicine men that were looking for the secret to immortality. They thought that gunpowder could be used as a medicine of some sort. "The invention of gunpowder gave the Chinese a distinct advantage over their enemies, changing the nature of warfare" (Ken Hsu, Willy Hsu, Micheal Lu).

At first gunpowder was used to blast rocks apart and to make fireworks, later to be used as warfare. To medieval Chinese it was simply an aid to esthetic pleasure. By the 10th century, gunpowder began to be used for military purposes in China in the form of rockets and explosive bombs fired from catapults. The first reference to cannon appears in 1126 when oil bamboo tubes were used to launch missiles at the enemy. Eventually bamboo tubes were replaced by metal tubes, and the oldest cannon in China dates from 1290. From China, the military use of gunpowder appears to have spread to Japan and Europe. "It was used by the Mongols against the Hungarians in 1241 and was mentioned by Roger Bacon in 1248. By the mid 14th century, early cannons are mentioned extensively both in Europe and in China." (Jack Kelly). In China as in Europe, the use of gunpowder to produce firearms and cannons was delayed by difficulties in creating metal tubes that would contain an explosion. This problem may have led to...
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