Weird History 14 Deliberately Evil Historical Punishments Designed To Be More Painful Than Death  

Christopher Myers
6.5k votes 1.6k voters 148.5k views 14 items

List Rules Vote up the most cruel and gruesome fates that make death look like bliss.

There are many things worse than dying in this world. To paraphrase an idiom, everyone dies, but not everyone has their organs removed as they watch, unanesthetized, in horror. Certain life experiences are best avoided altogether, if at all possible. Interestingly enough, many of the most horrible conditions in human life have actually been created by other humans. Sometimes, it is callous indifference to the suffering of others that allows these atrocities to take place. Other times, maximizing torture is the goal.

The lengths humans will go to in order to make others suffer is certainly unique in the animal kingdom. These real-life experiences will leave you wishing for death to come knocking sooner. Some of them do indeed end in death, but by that point, it is a welcome relief. Check out these fates that are much worse than death, and vote up the most brutal ones. 

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Scaphism is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 14 Deliberately Evil Historical Punishments Designed To Be More Painful Than Death
Photo:  Scaphism/YouTube

In this execution method, it isn't the death that's hard, but the dying. Also known as "the boats," this technique was developed by the ancient Persians. The condemned would be stripped naked and force-fed milk and honey. Not so bad so far. Then they would be covered head to toe in the milk/honey mix. Getting a little weird, but still not that bad. After that, would be bound in place between two boats with their head, hands, and feet exposed. The executioners would set the person adrift in a stagnant pond, and this is when the unimaginable horror would begin.

Biting insects, wasps, and flies would start to chew on the exposed skin. The milk and honey the victim ate before would give them terrible diarrhea, which would be trapped in the boats. Insects would find their way in, feasting on the diarrhea and human flesh alike. Burrowing maggots would make their way into the body and limbs would turn gangrenous. 

All of this happened while the victim was still alive. In some cases, the condemned would be fed even more milk and honey to keep them alive, so that their suffering would continue. 

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Rat Torture

Rat Torture is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 14 Deliberately Evil Historical Punishments Designed To Be More Painful Than Death
Photo:  oscar C/YouTube

Step one: grab a rat. Step two: put the rat into a metal bucket and press bucket firmly against victim's stomach. Step three: apply fire. Rat torture was a pretty gruesome way to torture a guy, even by medieval standards. The rat would frantically try to burrow its way to escape... through the victim's stomach and entrails. This invariably led to the death of the tortured, after a few hours of frantic, bloody, burrowing by our rodent friend.

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Flaying is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 14 Deliberately Evil Historical Punishments Designed To Be More Painful Than Death
Photo: Unknown/Wikimedia Commons

Having your skin peeled off your still-conscious body like a potato is a pretty horrific way to go out. While this technique was used sporadically through the Middle Ages, it was the ancient Assyrians who really loved flaying people alive. Just as House Bolton in Game of Thrones carries a banner with a picture of a man flayed alive, so, too, did the Assyrians.

A warlike civilization, Assyrians used the torture method as a means to intimidate their opposition into submission. If a city surrendered at the Assyrians' approach, they might be killed. If they resisted, they would be flayed alive. After one siege, King Ashurnasirpal boasted, "I flayed as many nobles as had rebelled against me [and] draped their skins over the pile [of corpses]; some I spread out within the pile, some I erected on stakes upon the pile." Dang, that's metal.

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Unit 731

Unit 731 is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 14 Deliberately Evil Historical Punishments Designed To Be More Painful Than Death
Photo: Unknown/Wikimedia Commons

Unit 731 was definitely not a place you wanted to visit. During World War II, the Japanese government set up the unit in Manchuria, China, in order to conduct experiments on humans. Prisoners who wound up in the unit had a whole lot of horror to look forward to.

One experiment involved injecting the "subjects" with bubonic plague. Of course, dying of bubonic plague is a pretty nasty fate, but that's not all. After an observation period, the "subjects" would be brought into a surgery room and vivisected, which means they were cut up while they were living. That's right, they were strapped down to tables and sliced open without any anesthesia whatsoever, to watch in horror as doctors pulled out and studied their organs. 

Other experiments involved freezing limbs in order to observe the impact of hypothermia. Much is still unknown about what went on at the unit because a lot of the documentation was burned near the end of the war. The doctors involved were largely granted immunity from their actions due to the lack of evidence. 

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