Today on Far Future Horizons we trace the ancient pedigree of those icons of modern warfare guns and heavy artillery.


Some of the strangest and deadliest weapons ever built were prototypes of the modern gun.


Bamboo Gun:The Chinese were the first to recognize sulfur and saltpeter as essential ingredients for gun powder. Though many people wrote about the inflammable mixtures during 300-650 AD, some historians claim that the invention of gunpowder was dated at 850 AD. However the true gunpowder formula was first published in the history by Tseng Kung-Liang around 1040 AD.


ANCIENT DISCOVERIES finds out whether a simple bamboo tube could have been the world's first gun. Hidden in an ancient manuscript lays a secret recipe for ancient tracer fire, but does it really work? How far and how high could the mega-mortar "Roaring Meg"have fired its shots to take out a Royalist stronghold? Can a team of experts discover the truth behind the bizarre battlefield phenomena of “wind of the cannonball,” when men were seen to drop dead without apparently having been touched by a shot? And did a nine-barreled medieval volleygun mark the birth of the modern machine gun?

Battle of Kai-fung-fu: The Chinese use bamboo casings loaded with gun powder mixed with iron shrapnel, and aimed as projectiles against an invading Mongol army. From an eye-witness account: "When the rocket was lit, it made a noise that resembled thunder that could be heard for five leagues--about 15 miles. When it fell to Earth, the point of impact was devastated for 2,000 feet in all directions." Image by Charles Hubbell. (Needham)

Countless modern inventions, such as planes, cars, robots and other machines, may have been conceived thousands of years ago in such far-away lands as ancient Egypt,Greece, Turkey, and the Far East. Go back millennia to see how our ancestors’ grandest ideas mirror those of modern society in the series ANCIENT DISCOVERIES.

Experts and archaeological digs continue to reveal new evidence into ancient inventions that were previously believed to have been created only in modern times. Each week, the series unearths new clues that connect the present with the past in more startling ways than we had ever imagined.

This and other episodes of Ancient Discoveries are available from the History Channel's online store and in special collection that can be purchased in from the United Kingdom from Amazon.co.uk.

Ancient Discoveries - Guns n Ammo




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