Who else could have developed gunpowder?

One of the most impactful Chinese inventions was that of gunpowder. It changed the face of warfare forever, arguably even more profoundly than the discovery of how to work iron, and the world would be unrecognizable without it.

But I don't think it necessarily had to have been developed in China alone. So I would like to pose the question: what other cultures and civilizations might have been able to independently create gunpowder? What might they have used it for?
 
Anybody could have, that's what makes its discovery so interesting. Charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter have all been well known since at least early antiquity and there are even mentions of burning saltpeter as a weapon in ancient India. The Chinese discovery was probably a combination of pure luck and a medical industry with a fondness for unique chemical mixes but from a technical standpoint there's nothing stopping Gilgamesh or Plato from mixing up a batch.

Personally, I've always suspected that it was probably invented several times but Chinese alchemists were the only ones with the dedication to experiment and refine the process into something more than a messy party trick.
 
Alchemy goes as far back as Ancient Egypt - all you really need for gunpowder is the discovery of writing and somebody to chisel it down before they forget.
 
Anybody could have, that's what makes its discovery so interesting. Charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter have all been well known since at least early antiquity and there are even mentions of burning saltpeter as a weapon in ancient India. The Chinese discovery was probably a combination of pure luck and a medical industry with a fondness for unique chemical mixes but from a technical standpoint there's nothing stopping Gilgamesh or Plato from mixing up a batch.

Personally, I've always suspected that it was probably invented several times but Chinese alchemists were the only ones with the dedication to experiment and refine the process into something more than a messy party trick.
This. I’m sure things were very compartmentalized like Greek fire was and a few deaths could mean an end to an invention.
Plus as you said it being a party trick. I’m sure the next ruler cut it from the budget when they needed to tighten belts
 
Hellenistic/ late antiquity Greeks/ Eastern Romans make a tempting candidate IMO. Greek fire didn't come out of the blue...
 
See also




There are also threads on WI Rome/Greece/Egypt/Europe/etc. discovered it early. And even more on WI it was never discovered.
 
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