Espionage Through The Years

25 July 2016  |  Admin

The art of spying has been something practiced for many thousands of years, with recorded evidence of espionage missions taking place as early as 1,000 B.C. The Egyptians, with an extensive military and vast slave trade operation conducted intelligence missions in order to establish the strengths of their rivals in Greece and Rome; without the use of covert spy cameras and modern gadgets, Egyptian spies used hidden codes, trick inks and secret compartments within their clothing to carry out acts of sabotage or to steal information. The Greeks and the Romans also had their methods of spying; the memorable story of the Trojan Horse is a prime example of the way in which these societies deceived their peers. A wooden structure containing hundreds of Greek soldiers was sent directly to the city of Troy disguised as a gift, showcasing the power of the Grecian intelligence system.

With the fall of these powerful empires came the birth of nations such as France and England as we know them today, and with literacy a rarity, spies and intelligence agents had to find innovative ways to carry messages and information. Webs of allegiances based on scribes and those who could read and write were formed, and without the use of spy recording equipment or listening devices, messages were often skewed and lost in translation, causing these allegiances to falter. Around the 1000s, the Catholic Church came to prominence and was a force which governed much of Europe. Such a powerful force needed a thorough and complex intelligence system, and the medieval intelligence community was one of the most long-standing and effective systems that has ever existed.

By the Renaissance, technology advancements were beginning to aid espionage missions in new ways. Chemists, with intelligence and knowledge greater than any before them, began to invent invisible inks, whilst a wave of mathematicians came up with intricate codes which could only be cracked by someone of equal intelligence. Magnifying glasses, telescopes and the camera obscura were the spy gadgets of the day, and travel was becoming easier to allow quick entry into other countries, as well as equally fast getaways.

From the 1700s onwards, espionage took on a supreme role in every world event. Revolutions in France and America relied heavily upon it, and pan-European revolutions in the mid-1800s were spurred on specifically by discretely gained intelligence. Industrialisation in the 19th century saw the invention of gadgets and devices which would change the world; telegraphs and Morse code could now send messages in minutes, changing the way operations were carried out forever.

The 20th century saw espionage and spying evolve in the highly technical field that we know today. With a larger emphasis on research and analysis than actual field operations, most developed countries now have a centralised intelligence system which conducts operations across the world with increasing sophistication and accuracy. The prevalence of spying accounts throughout the millennia demonstrate the importance it has for wider society, and indicate that this practice will continue as long as civilisation does.

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