10 Punishments in History You Wouldn’t Wish On Your Worst Enemy

Many of these punishments were brutal and inhumane, often intended to serve as a deterrent to others. Here are ten of the most horrifying punishments from history that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.

1. Scaphism (Ancient Persia)

Also known as “the boats,” scaphism was a method of execution designed to cause prolonged suffering and humiliation. The condemned person was placed inside a hollowed-out tree trunk or between two boats, with only their head, hands, and feet protruding. They were force-fed milk and honey, which would induce severe diarrhea, attracting insects and vermin. The victim would slowly die from exposure, dehydration, and septic shock.

2. The Brazen Bull (Ancient Greece)

Invented by Perillos of Athens, the Brazen Bull was a hollow bronze statue in the shape of a bull. Victims were placed inside the bull, and a fire was set underneath, heating the metal until the person inside was roasted to death. The design included a complex system of tubes that converted the victim’s screams into sounds resembling the bellowing of a bull.

3. Breaking Wheel (Medieval Europe)

Also known as the “Catherine wheel,” this punishment involved binding the condemned person to a large wheel. The executioner would then strike the limbs with an iron cudgel, breaking the bones. The shattered limbs were threaded through the spokes of the wheel, and the person was left to die from shock and exposure. Sometimes, the wheel was hoisted onto a pole to display the victim as a warning to others.

4. Flaying (Various Cultures)

Flaying, or skinning alive, was a method of execution used in several ancient civilizations, including the Assyrians and the Aztecs. The condemned person’s skin was removed, usually starting at the face. The process was excruciatingly painful, and death often came from shock, blood loss, or infection.

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