Capital punishment is a topic that pops up from time to time, but some of these methods, not so much.
The following list contains some genuine torture techniques from history that make you realise that today is by far the best time to be alive! And be warned, some of them are truly horrifying. Seriously.
Death By Sawing
A method apparently used in parts of Europe and Asia, the body is held upside down, and then sawn in half, starting at the waist. With the body being inverted, there is enough blood in the brain to keep the person alive long enough to feel and suffer until the saw gets into their abdomen. Rough. And believe it or not, we’ve started light…
This form of execution was made famous during the Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts. Giles Corey was believed to be a witch, so they put him between two large boards, and kept adding weight as a form of torture, to try and get him to confess to being a witch. Because, obviously, he wasn’t a witch, he never confessed, and while they were piling more and more on top of him, his last words were apparently “more weight”.
We’ve all heard about JC dying on the cross, but not many people realise just how common this method of death was. The Romans were mad for it. Sometimes they were nailed to the cross, other times they were tied to it. The death would be slow, painful and drawn out, lasting days and even weeks. You can look on the bright side of life all you want when you’re up there, it’s still going to be horrific.
Bamboo Torture And Execution
It’s starting to get a bit more grim now… After WWII stories circulated about Japanese soldiers using this method of torture and execution on prisoners of war.
The person is secured over a young bamboo shoot. Bamboo grows quickly and is powerful, and the sharp shoot will push up, into the flesh of the prisoner, and will keep going until it pops through on the other side.
Mythbusters tested the legend, and concluded that it is possible, and likely to be true.
Bamboo is still used as a torture method today, as shoots of it are forced into the fingers, underneath the nails… Which made me wince as I typed it.
Lingchi (Slow Slicing)
This Chinese punishment was only outlawed at the turn of the 20th century, and is brutally harsh. Basically, the executioner slices and cuts off small parts of the person’s body, while keeping them alive, so they suffer and feel the pain, until eventually, they die. Cutting at digits, then limbs, then the torso, it was rather methodical… And fucking ruthless.
The Judas Cradle.
This probably inspired some Saw movies. Bordering on impalement, this method is a royal pain in the arse. The victim is sat on top of the pyramid, then pulled down by ropes, until the pyramid goes up their bum, slowly and painfully. Seeing as the devices were never washed, even if you somehow survived the torture, the inevitable infections would be the cherry on top. Good luck surviving those.
The Spanish Donkey or the “Wooden Horse”
Something similar to the Judas Cradle and a favourite of the Spanish Inquisition, particularly for women offenders. However, this method was used as recently as early colonial America. The victim would ride the top of the wedge, which could also contain several spikes. Weights were generally placed on the ankles, to add to the pain. Death was rare unless spikes were added, so other tortures would continue after the wooden horse.
A pretty simple method, but obviously very effective. It’s pretty much my worst nightmare, and the main reason I want to be cremated. The victim is buried alive, unsurprisingly, and usually in a coffin, so they don’t die from being crushed or suffocation, and have the torment of being alive inside the box. The most recent example of this is the Nanking Massacre in 1937, where Japanese soldiers buried Chinese civilians.
Recently shown in 2 fast 2 furious, this one has been around for some time. A metal bucket is strapped around the person’s lower abdomen, with a rat inside. The bottom of the bucket is then heated up, and the rat’s natural instinct is to flee from the heat, so it starts to burrow into the victim. Painful and slow, it sounds horrific.
Another one to feature in Game Of Thrones is being flayed alive. Or ‘skinned’ as it basically means. The victim’s skin is removed from their body, while alive. It can start at several places on the body, and the aim is to remove the skin in one whole piece. The main reasons for death with this are shock, severe loss of blood, hypothermia and infections. It looks a bit sore.
A favourite of the ancient Persians, Scaphism is one hell of a torturous death. The victim gets stripped naked, then placed between two narrow rowing boats, or a similar setup using a barrel or hollowed out trees, with their head and limbs poking out of the sides. They are then force-fed milk and honey, until the inevitable diarrhoea kicks in. More honey is then poured on them to attract insects.
They are then left to rot, either in a stagnant pond, or in the baking sun, with insects attracted to the body, eating at it, and reproducing within the flesh. Death would be very slow, and very, very painful. It came about mainly by dehydration, starvation and septic shock. Fuck that.
Anyway, sorry for that.