For as long as humans have been on Earth, we have used weapons in warfare, hunting, self-defence and a range of other activities. Like our relationship with nature and other animals, weapons evolved at same time as we did, as our ancestors continually looked to make everything more efficient, easier to make and mass produce. The evolution of warfare as a whole can be seen as the precursor for most if not all of human history, as it helped shape more than just the survival of our species.
From our early ancestors’ use of tools, we were able to upgrade our primitive spears and bow and arrows by adding cut stone and other sharp implements fairly early, known in history as the Stone Age. Today we can find remnants of these sharp utensils – which were both used as tools and weapons – amongst archaeological digs of ancient communities, much like those that succeeded them.
Shortly after humans began settling down, we began to become more proficient in mining and other such forms of resource gathering. This led to the Bronze Age, where we began using metal in our daily lives, but also to make our weapons more lethal and reliable and our tools last longer and more efficient. From there the range of weapons improved drastically as we continued to learn more about metallurgy and blacksmiths became a viable trade. We began looking at armor, swords of varying size and ability, spears, metal plated projectiles and much more.
Civilizations were built and destroyed around weapons and the armies that carried them, with siege weapons and other such inventions finding their way into warfare fairly quickly after that. From there inventors and scientists alike helped propel weaponry into a new age, as the Chinese discovery of gunpowder led to a different type of arms race amongst the nations that had established themselves through a series of major conflicts.
The rise of countries was formed off the back off weapons, with countries like England, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal all claiming large swathes of land and colonising them thanks to their use of weapons that were far superior than those of the local populace they faced. This helped form the world as it is today, and even in modern times, the weapons trade is still a massive part of the economy of several major countries, whilst military deterrence and armed action is still used to dissuade enemies as it was millennia ago.