Humans are capable of immense cruelty, and torture tactics have been increasingly sophisticated throughout time. To grasp the actual scope of human outrage, we dug deep into world history and compiled this gory, terrible list of the most horrific torture methods ever used on humans. In this article, we have come up with the gut-wrenching forms of the death penalty in human history.
1. Brazen Bull Death Penalty
Brazen Bull is a device that is not only believed to be one of the most painful gadgets ever created but it is also considered to be technologically advanced for its historical period—the 6th century BC. According to legend, its inventor, Perilous of Athens, was deceived into serving as the first guinea pig for the metallic bull during his experiments.
The bull was illuminated from below, and its mechanism was designed in such a way that the victim’s screams were amplified through a system of tubes. The voices that came out of the bull were said to be similar to those of a raging bull.
2. Impalement by the Ruler, Vlad
Impalement was ‘Vlad the Impaler’s’ preferred method of punishing traitors and those who failed to submit to his authority. The procedure consisted of forcing victims to sit on a sharp pole that would ascend at a constant rate.
The sufferer would slowly make his way down the pole. It was sometimes necessary to wait as long as three days before the sufferer died. The impalement of 20,000 individuals, according to some historical accounts, was allegedly carried out while Vlad was eating dinner.
3. Deaths By A Thousand Cuts
Lingchi, variably translated as the long process, the lingering death, or gradual slicing, and also referred to as death by a thousand cuts, was a method of torture and execution utilized in China from approximately 900 CE to the early 1900s.
Additionally, it was employed in Vietnam and Korea. A knife was used to meticulously remove pieces of the body over an extended period of time, eventually resulting in death in this type of execution.
A rope was used to secure all four limbs to a wooden frame. The torturer would then begin tightening the cords and straining the victim’s limbs. They would continue until the victim’s limbs were severed.
One particularly terrible component of being stretched too far on the rack is the loud cracking sounds produced by cartilage, ligaments, or bones fracturing. Another way to exert pressure on inmates was to make them watch another person undergo the rack.
Scaphism could be classified as the worst mode of execution ever created for sheer, frenzied, sickening horror. Beginning in 500 B.C., it was practiced by the Ancient Persians. The victim was placed inside a hollowed-out log or narrowboat, with their wrists and feet tied to each end.
The victim was then made to consume a milk and honey concoction until they lost control of their bowels, at which time their skin was covered with further milk and honey before being exposed to the sun and surrounded by their own excrement and vomit. At this point, the insects began to descend.
Stinging and biting insects such as wasps and ants would afflict the sufferer, but worse, some would burrow inside the subject’s open orifices and lay eggs, slowly devouring them from the inside out.
6. The Blood Eagle
The blood eagle was a technique of ritually executing a chosen member as detailed in late skaldic poetry. According to the two events recounted in the Sagas, the victims (in both cases members of royal families) were placed in a prone position, their ribs removed from the spine with a sharp weapon, and their lungs pushed through the opening to create a pair of “wings”.
Flaying – sometimes referred to as “skinning alive” — has a long and macabre history. Although records of the practice date all the way back to the Neo-Assyrian Empire (beginning in 911 B.C. ), it has appeared in virtually every civilization at some point, including Medieval Europe (where it was frequently used as a form of punishment for traitors) and the Aztecs‘ ritual human sacrifices in Mexico (the Aztecs, at least, are believed to have skinned the body after the sacrifice had been made).
8. Raped By A Wild Animal To Death
Little is known about the world’s first serial killer, which may account for the quirky nature of Locusta’s execution. Locusta was covered with a female giraffe’s vaginal secretions, raped by a specially trained male giraffe, and then devoured by wild animals.
9. The Breast Ripper
It’s a relatively self-explanatory concept. Women’s breasts were ripped from their bodies using heated or chilled metal. It was a device that was employed in medieval Germany to punish women who had given birth to children through adultery.
10. The Rat Torture
In its simplest version, a bucket containing live rats is placed on the victim’s exposed body and heat is supplied to the bucket’s base. The rats, terrified by the heat, tear and gnaw their way into the victim’s abdomen, clawing and ripping their way through skin, flesh, organs, and intestines in their desperate attempt to escape.
Rats, with the most intense biting and chewing motion of any rodent, are capable of destroying a human stomach in a matter of seconds. Along with the tremendous anguish, the victim would experience the sickening sensation of enormous, dirty monsters squirming around inside their stomachs as they died.
11. Boiled Till Death
A torturous and slow manner of punishment, this method usually involved gradually lowering the victim — feet first — into boiling oil, water, or wax (although uses of boiling wine and molten lead have also been recorded). If the shock of the pain does not knock the individual unconscious instantly, they will feel the terrible sensation of their outer layers of skin dissolving away from their body, followed by the full collapse of the fatty tissue boiling away beneath.
12. Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered
In England, treason was punishable by hanging, drawing, and quartering. In 1814, the multistep procedure was abandoned. The person is pulled inside a wooden frame and then strangled by the neck till near death. They are then castrated and their genitals are burned in front of their eyes. Quartered is the final stage, in which the victim is chopped into four different pieces and beheaded.
13. Crushed to Death by An Elephant
Elephant killings were popular in South and Southeast Asia, particularly in India, where Asian elephants were used to crush, dismember, and torment victims during public executions. The animals were trained and adaptable, capable of instantly killing victims or torturing them slowly over an extended length of time. Elephants were frequently utilized by royalty to symbolize both absolute authority and the ruler’s capacity to tame wild animals.
14. The Judas Cradle
The Judas Cradle was a pyramid-shaped wooden structure with the victim on top. Hands and legs would be restrained to prevent weight shifting. The feet were actually linked together to increase the pain whenever the feet moved.
The pyramid’s sharp edge was carefully placed into the victim’s anus or vagina. But the time varied from victim to victim, depending on factors other than their own pain tolerance. For instance, sometimes a weight was put to the victim’s legs which intensified the suffering but also resulted in speedy death. Sometimes oil was applied to the device, causing more discomfort.
15. Death by Sawing into Half
A person was sawed in half typically midsagittally or transversely. Execution by sawing was purportedly employed in several places of the world. Many incidents of humans being slaughtered into half were reported back in history. One such incident is Tarbula was convicted and sawn in two in the year 345 on charges of witchcraft and causing the sickness of the wife of the fervently anti-Christian Persian monarch Shapur II.
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