10 Most Horrifying Torture Methods In All of History

In a world where criminal offenses are becoming more complicated by the minute and the strict laws that protect us becoming more concrete, there isn’t much need for torture methods. However, before all these rules and principles were established, there were some really horrifying torture methods that were used on criminals, people who were to be interrogated, and even innocent people who refused to be oppressed. Well, either way, these torture methods are a part of our history and are often brushed off as fiction. So, here are the ten most horrifying torture methods of all time!

Warning: NSFW Content!

1. Scaphism

It was a method of torturous execution where you die from your insides rotting out, and being eaten alive by insects.

Image source: nishan.org

Scaphism was a Persian torture method.  The name comes from the Greek σκάφη, skáphe, meaning “anything scooped (or hollowed) out”. In scaphism, a person was stripped naked and was tied down inside two empty boats, one on top of the other. Next, they were forced to ingest milk and honey. The milk and honey gave the person diarrhea and the feces attracted insects. Insects feed and breed on the victim while he was tied down and rotting in his own feces. The infections would become extremely torturous. Therefore, it led to a slow excruciating death.

In an ancient description Life of Artaxerxes, Plutarch talks this method. The writing was about the king who decreed that Mithridates should be put to death in boats by scaphism.(source)

2. Judas cradle

In this torture method, a pyramid-shaped seat was slowly forced up the anus/vag*na until the victim died of shock or infection.

Image source: planetdeadly.com

The Judas cradle or the Judas chair was a medieval torture device which had a pyramid-shaped seat and a waist harness on top. Strangely enough, the victim would be placed in the harness and lowered on the pyramid with the pyramid being inserted into their anus or vagina very slowly. Gradually, the pain would increase and due to the pressure, the muscle tear would increase. Finally, the victim would die of infection, pain, septic wound, or by being impaled.

A similar device was said to be used in Prussia to discipline soldiers. This device was not designed to break the skin but instead cause damage to the genitals.(source)

3. Brazen bull

This was a method in which victims were shut in and roasted alive by a fire kindled beneath, while their screams mimicked the bellowing of the bull.

Brazen bull
Image source: glengreen.com

The brazen bull, bronze bull, or Sicilian bull was a torture and execution device designed in ancient Greece. According to Diodorus Siculus, recounting the story in Bibliotheca Historica, Perillos of Athens invented and proposed it to Phalaris, the tyrant of Akragas, Sicily, as a new means of executing criminals. In this method, the victim would be kept in a bronze, hollow bull with a door on one side. This life-size bull also had a mechanism which converted the screams of the victim into bull noises. This bull would then be set on a fire which would heat the metal up roasting the victim to death.

Also, in ancient texts, the Romans were reputed to have used this torture device to kill some Christians. Notably, it was Saint Eustace, who, according to Christian tradition, was roasted in a brazen bull with his wife and children by Emperor Hadrian.(source)

4. Rat torture

This method of torture consisted of a pottery bowl filled with rats placed open side down on the naked body of a prisoner. When hot charcoal was piled on the bowl, the rats would “gnaw into the very bowels of the victim” in an attempt to escape the heat.

Rat torture
Image source: discoverinformation.com/

There are various forms of rat torture. The earliest mention of rat torture is by Roman Catholic writers of the Elizabethan era. According to them, the Tower of London featured “Rat Dungeon” or “Dungeon of the Rats”. It was also used during the Dutch Revolution. Diederik Sonoy has documented a method in which a pottery bowl filled with rats was placed on the naked body of a prisoner. The open side of the bowl faced downwards. Next, hot charcoal was piled on the top of the bowl. In order to escape the heat, the rats would “gnaw into the very bowels of the victim”.

The rat torture resurfaced recently on October 16, 2010, in  Lakewood Township, New Jersey when David Wax used it to threaten a kidnap victim to give his wife a divorce.(source)

5. Peine forte et dure

In this method of torture, if a defendant stood mute and refused to plead guilty or innocent, they would be subjected to having heavier and heavier stones placed upon their chest until a plea was entered, or they died.

Peine forte et dure
Image source: executedtoday.com

Peine forte et dure was a torture method which translates in French to “hard and forceful punishment”. In this method of torture, the victim would be tied down naked with their back on the floor and interrogated. If the victim would stand mute, they would put heavy weights made of stone and iron on their chest. Thus, this method was also known as being “pressing to death”.

The most famous case in England was that of Roman Catholic martyr St Margaret Clitherow. It was done in order to avoid a trial in which her own children would be obliged to give evidence and could be tortured. Hence, she was pressed to death on 25 March, 1586.(source)

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