Everybody farts. There are even children’s books about it. So why, then, does it remain such an embarrassment? As far as bodily functions go, farting is by far the most taboo. Yet, this seems to be relatively recent development.

Historically speaking, these potent butt blasts haven’t always been a source of shame. In fact, they’ve often held a place of honor on the battlefield.

Weapons of ass destruction

Throughout history, farts have been used to provoke the enemy with enormous, stinky success.

It all started back in 569 B.C., when a single fart sparked a revolt against King Apries of Egypt. According to legend, a renegade general blasted the king’s messenger with a forceful toot, saying only, “Carry that back to Apries.” The king cut off the messenger’s ears and the rest is history.

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Other incidents include the Jewish War in 44 A.D., where one epic fart led to the deaths of 10,000 people and WW11 … which was apparently the result of many, many farts. It is said that Hitler took strychnine (now known to cause emotional disturbances) to quell his near-constant farting.

The He-gassen scroll 

Those are all some impressive stories-but they look weak compared to Japan’s absolutely epic fart competitions.

During the Edo Period (1603-1868), outside influence over Japan began to grow-and the citizens were not happy. Unfair trade agreements and forced Christianity had Japanese natives up in arms-and experts say that the infamous He-gassen scroll was a result of the growing xenophobia.

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Depicting bare-bottomed men (and sometimes women) in fart battles, the scroll is said to represent distaste for Western influence in Japan.

Was it really just satire? 

Was the He-gassen scroll really just a satirical jab at the pushy Europeans? Or was there more to it than that? In his heart of hearts, there isn’t a man out there who doesn’t hope that the giant, stinky fart battles were real. Who hasn’t dreamed of bending over, hiking up his robes, and bagging up a sack of farts to lob at his enemy?

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Unfortunately, no one really knows for sure. (But that doesn’t mean you can’t carry on the foul-smelling tradition.)