Weapons have come a long way, from prehistoric times, to modern ages.
In this report, I will describe how various weapons have changed over time.
Over 60,000 years ago, bows and arrows were invented and used.
Humans also threw weapons made out of sticks and stones at each other,
including clubs and maces. Some African cave paintings show people
with clubs, along with tipped spears.
Later, in the Copper Age, weapons evolved to knives, slings, and swords.
Chariots were also used. In this era, domesticated animals were also used
for battles (i.e. pulling chariots).
In the Bronze Age, there were siege towers and battering rams.
Chariots died out and were replaced by cavalry. As people were taking
advantage of natural resources in the Earth, weapons also progressed.
The Greeks were planning ahead of their enemy in order to fashion the
proper weapon, and used a different style of warfare. They defeated
the Persians, but the Macedonians emerged, and they had advanced
weapons such as sarissas 1(long spears with iron heads), artillery,
catapults, and ballistae which were improved by generals such as
Alexander the Great.
The Medieval Ages spanned a large period of time, and saw great
progress in weapon development. The Normans built castles for
defense, longbows were used, and hand ballistas were invented.
However, in this time period the Barbarians were invading the
Roman Empire. They, along with other tribes, such as the Vandals,
developed their own weapons as well. Those weapons were superior
to Roman weapons at the time. They were weapons such as throwing
axes, barbed lances, and double-edged axes. Later in the Medieval Ages,
the earliest guns were invented. Handguns were also popularized during
this time. Forts were built to both defend and attack. Indian soldiers at
the time used tulwars, 2 or curved swords.
During the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s, weapons evolved to
new levels. Machine guns were invented, the revolver in 1835 eliminated
the need for standard swords, steam engines changed war at sea, hulls
in ships were made of iron, and explosives, such as TNT and dynamite,
Finally, in the modern times of the 20th century, the tank was
introduced by the British, and the Zeppelin by the Germans. Dive
bombers were used by aircraft during WWII. During that same era,
two cities in Japan (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) got bombed with atomic
bombs within three days of each other. The hydrogen bomb, an
extremely powerful bomb, was invented during the 20th century
as well. In the Gulf War of 1991, laser guided missiles were used
to great effect.
Nuclear weapons originated in the mid-20th century, when
scientists started to better understand atoms. Earlier, in 1898,
Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radium, which furthered scientists’
understanding. The earliest nuclear weapons were atomic bombs,
developed by the United States during WWII. After atomic bombs
came the first thermonuclear (fusion) weapons. These weapons
would start the process of nuclear fusion when activated. They were
planned to have been about 1,000 times more powerful1 than regular
atomic bombs. In the 1950s and 1960s, many nuclear tests were
conducted. V-1 and V-2 rockets, nuclear-tipped rockets, and ballistic
missiles were a result of these. During the Cold War, intercontinental
ballistic missiles (ICBMs) were developed, and produced in great numbers,
until the signing of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT). The last
known nuclear weapon detonation was performed during a 2009 North
Korean nuclear test. 2
Biological and chemical weapons played a large role in warfare
over time as well. Back in the Middle Ages, the Mongol Empire had
armies that used a deadly disease, later known as the bubonic plague.
They would infect besieged cities by catapulting dead, infected bodies
over their walls. Black Death, as it was later known, spread to many
different countries in Europe and Asia, killing about 1/3 of the European
population at the time, and many more people of the Asian population.
Biological weapons were also used around the 18th century. There
is evidence of the British disseminating smallpox-infected blankets
among the native American population to infect them. As much as
a quarter of their population died. These diseases likely came from
Eurasia where many people there had developed immunity.3 However,
the American population had not, and many died as a result. Much later,
during WWI, the German Empire placed anthrax on Russian horses.
In WWII, the Imperial Japanese Army targeted the Chinese with disease.
Finally, there are chemical weapons. These weapons were used
millennia ago, as poisoned arrows and spears. It was during the
Renaissance, though, when chemical weapon usage was at its peak.
In the late 15th century, the Taino people created smoke screens
with peppers and ashes before attacking. Spanish conquistadors
found this out in their travels. In the 17th century, armies started
fires by launching incendiary artillery at their enemy. During WWI
and WWII, Chlorine and Phosgene gases were used, despite the
Hague Declaration of 1899 prohibiting “the use of poison or
poisonous weapons” 4.
Weapons have come a long way, from primitive clubs, maces,
sticks, and stones, to guns, missiles, and bombs. They have
changed, from simple sticks and stones used mainly to hunt, to
the most advanced, dangerous, and feared weapons of warfare.
As time passed, humans developed more, and better, strategies
against such weapons. Even though weapons have undergone
a very long history, and many modifications, there is one thing
in common all weapons have: for man to kill man.