Bomb disposal has been critical for soldiers in wartime for hundreds of years, but the operation didn't get particularly scientific until the twentieth century. Here's a history of bomb disposal techniques since the dawn of World War II, right up into the present day.

Suit guard for a bomb opener, from Popular Science, January 1933

Dressed in his official costume, the German police officer charged with the responsibility of opening bombs found in the mail looks like an ancient warrior clad in armor. The mask and padding are designed to protect him if an explosion should occur, despite his delicate handling of an infernal machine. In the illustration above, a suspicious package is being opened.

(via Modermechanix)

A British army bomb disposal squad removing the detonator from an unexploded German bomb after an air raid during the Blitz, circa 1940

(Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A member of the bomb disposal squad investigating an unexploded bomb with the tip of a pickaxe, c. 1940

(Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Down 18 feet after a Japanese bomb, which dug into the air field of a New Guinea base shown Sept. 14, 1942, and didn't explode, went this member of an RAAF disposal crew.

(Photo by AP/Edward Widdis)

A RAAF disposal crew winds a Japanese bomb on top of a winch to diffuse it and haul it away in a waiting truck after it struck an airfield at this New Guinea base in 1942 during World War II. The bomb dug itself 18 feet into the ground without exploding. The sign marks the spot where the bomb dug in, 12 feet headfirst, then six feet sideways.

(AP Photo/Edward Widdis)

A bomb disposal party working on an enemy weapon dropped near Algiers, November 1942

(via Wikimedia Commons/Imperial War Museums)

A British army bomb disposal squad digging round an unexploded 2000 pound German 'Hermann' bomb, which was found on the Shell Building site on the South Bank of the Thames, London, 7th April 1959

(Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

An anti-terrorist squad member investigates a report of a suspicious package, c. 1960

(Photo by Sherman/Three Lions/Getty Images)

A Bosnian explosive disposal team practises land-mine clearance training in Sarajevo, Saturday October 26,1996

(Photo by AP/Sava Radovanovic)

A Taiwanese soldier in a protective suit demonstrates bomb disposal technique during a military display for the media at an army base at Linkou, suburban Taipei, on May 30, 1997.

(AP Photo/Eddie Shih)

Army Spc. Brian Morris takes a break in a military bomb detonation suit weighs 65 pounds, January 2002

(AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

New York Bomb Squad members leave a building on Varick Street near the Holland Tunnel after investigating a bomb scare on July 3, 2002

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. James Weber (right), an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 11th Civil Engineer Squadron, assists Staff Sgt. Amber Goedde, an EOD technician with the 23rd Civil Engineer Squadron, in donning a bomb suit at Forward Operating Base Azizullah, Afghanistan, on May 6, 2011.

(via Wikimedia Commons/Staff Sgt. Stephen Schester)

Secretary of the Army John McHugh tours Rapid Trident 2011, a multi-national airborne operation and field training exercise, Yavoriv, Ukraine, August 2011

(via U.S. Army Europe Images)

An Afghan Army Counter IED (Improvised Explosive Device) specialist is pictured during a capabilities demonstration in Afghanistan, October 2011

(via Wikimedia Commons/Sgt Steve Blake RLC)

Robots to disarm and defeat improvised explosive devices (IEDs)

(via Wikimedia Commons/Mate Airman Mandy McLaurin and defenseimagery)