History of poison  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The history of poison stretches from before 4500 BC to the present day. Poisons have been used for many purposes across the span of human existence, most commonly as weapons, anti-venoms, and medicines. Poison has allowed much progress in branches, toxicology, and technology, among other sciences.

Poison was discovered in ancient times, and was used by primitive tribes and civilizations as a hunting tool to quicken and ensure the death of their prey or enemies. This use of poison grew more advanced, and many of these ancient peoples began forging weapons designed specifically for poison enhancement. Later in history, particularly at the time of the Roman Empire, one of the more prevalent uses assassination. As early as 331 BC, poisonings executed at the dinner table or in drinks were reported, and the practice became a common occurrence. The use of fatal substances was seen among every social class; even the nobility would often use it to dispose of unwanted political or economic opponents.

In the Medieval Europe, poison became a more popular form of killing, though cures surfaced for many of the more widely known poisons. This was stimulated by the increased availability of poisons; shops known as apothecaries, selling various medicinal wares, were open to the public, and from there, substances that were traditionally used for curative purposes were employed for more sinister means. At approximately the same time, other areas of the world were making transparent, making assassinations impossible to detect. This "poison epidemic" was also prevalent in parts of Asia at this time, as well.

Over the centuries, the use of poisons for devious means and harmful purposes continued to escalate. The means for curing these poisons also continued to advance, but new poisons surfaced and became popular among criminals. In the present day, poisoning by harmful intent is less prevalent, and the risk of accidental poisoning now exists more in everyday substances and products. In addition, its use has widened exponentially; poison is often used as a pesticide, disinfectant, cleaning solution, or preservative, among others. Despite this, the first use of poison—as a hunting tool—still remains in remote parts of developing countries, especially those in Africa, South America, and Asia.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "History of poison" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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