The invention, documentation, and use of gunpowder started way back in the ancient china. Gun-powder- based explosives and weapons were used by Chinese military in their war against Mongols. They also used gunpowder as a fuel source for rockets. The journey to the invention of gunpowder by the Chinese can be dated back in the mid-first century (Buchanan, 2006). It started with the invention and use of both Saltpeter and sulfur. Here, the Chinese could distinguish Saltpeter from other salts by its characteristic purple flame when allowed to burn. This made it easier for the scientists to search for its purification methods. The Chinese named Saltpeter as "Fire Powder" or "Fire Chemical". By mid 9th century, gunpowder was invented (Needham, 1986). After its invention, the knowledge of gunpowder spread to different parts of the world. It started in China, then to India, and then to Middle East between1240 AD and 1280 AD (Kelly, 2004). The technology arrived in Europe in 1248 AD. In 1250 AD, the Norwegians could use coal and sulfur as weapons for combat, and by 1257 AD, the message had spread to various parts of Europe. (Encyclopedia Britannica, London, 1771). We can clearly see here that the invention of gunpowder was not influenced in any way by the Western.
Later advancements in the gunpowder could be realized without non-Western influence
Even though the Europeans were the last to learn about gunpowder technology, they have greatly contributed towards the development of the technology. The Europeans have pushed the technology to the wall, creating its new uses, and at the same time refining its formulas (Zhong, 1995). Through the Silk Road Trade, gunpowder entered Europe. Its refinement process and the chemical formula reached Europe in 13th century. Roger Bacon (1214 – 1292), a renowned European alchemist, listed the components of gunpowder. This made it easier for the European alchemists, scientists, and inventors to improve it. Corned gunpowder was created by the alchemists. It had similar chemicals as the original gunpowder, but with different process of refining. The first European cannon was invented in 1353 by Berthold Schwarz, a German friar. The Europeans also greatly improved the firearms which were originally invented by the Chinese and the Indians. Several hundreds of years later, the European had extensively improved the gunpowder and exported it back to China, with completely new taste. From the above, it is true to say that non-Western influenced played a very slim role, if any, in the advancement of gunpowder technology.
Despite being the source of the gunpowder technology, the non-Western could not best understand it without the Western influence
It’s only in China and India where the natural sources of gunpowder can be found. However, Europeans demonstrated perfect understanding of the gunpowder technology as they constantly participated towards improving the technology after the 14th century. The industrial revolution in Europe was largely as a result of the gunpowder technology coupled with the compass and printing ideas from Asia. Unlike China, in the late medieval times, the Europeans constantly waged wars against each other as a result of the gunpowder technology.