While rockets are often thought of as the realm of modern scientists and the military, they have their roots in medieval China. This article traces their roots from a 12th century party trick to their evolution as the terror of Mongolian invaders.
Gunpowder was developed much earlier, possibly from alchemy experiments to find an elixir of immortality. There are mentions in the 9th century BCE of experiments gone awry. By the 13th century they are used in fireworks for entertainment, and in 1232 there is the first mention of rockets being used for military purposes. The Chinese continued to create more sophisticated rockets after that.