7 of the Most Gruesome Execution Methods In History

Most of this execution methods were popular during the medieval periods when capital punishment was not just about ending a person’s life, but about torturing and prolonging death as long as possible thereby putting the victim through excruciating pain. Below are 7 of the most gruesome methods of execution.

rib hang


Death by elephant was a common method of execution in Southern and South-eastern Asia, although Western powers like Rome and Carthage occasionally employed it as well.

Death either came swiftly or slowly, depending on the severity of your crime. The trained elephant would either crush your head, bringing about instantaneous death, or crush all of your limbs, one by one.


Impalement as a method of execution, is the penetration of a human by an object such as a stake, pole, spear, or hook, often by complete or partial perforation of the torso.

It was used particularly in response to “crimes against the state” and regarded across a number of cultures as a very harsh form of capital punishment.

Impalement was also used during wartime to suppress rebellion, punish traitors or collaborators, and as a punishment for breaches of military discipline.

The survival time on the stake is quite variedly reported, from a few seconds or minutes to a few hours or 1 to 3 days.


A slightly variant way of executing people by means of Rib hang was to force an iron meat hook beneath a person’s ribs and hang him up to die slowly.

This technique was in 18th century Ottoman-controlled Bosnia called the cengela, but the practice is also attested, for example, in 1770s Dutch Suriname as a punishment meted out to rebellious slaves.


Flaying is an ancient, and particularly frowned upon method of torture and execution, which involves the use of a blade to remove several layers of the victim’s skin, exposing nerve and muscle tissue, and leaving the torturee in perpetual agony, and eventually, death.

The peeled off skin woulf then be hung in public for all to see to serve as warning.


Scaphism, also known as the boat is an ancient Persian method of execution designed to inflict torturous death.

The intended victim would be stripped naked and then firmly fastened within the interior space of two narrow rowing boats (or hollowed-out tree trunks) joined together one on top of the other with the head, hands and feet protruding.

The condemned would then be forced to ingest milk and honey to the point of developing severe diarrhea, and more honey would be poured on him to attract insects, with special attention devoted to the eyes, ears, mouth, face, genitals, and anus.

In some cases, the executioner would mix milk and honey and pour that mixture all over the victim. He would then be left to float on a stagnant pond or be exposed to the sun.

The defenseless individual’s feces accumulated within the container, attracting more insects which would eat and breed within the victim’s exposed flesh, which—pursuant to interruption of the blood supply by burrowing insects —became increasingly gangrenous.

The feeding would be repeated each day in some cases to prolong the torture, so that fatal dehydration or starvation did not occur.

When Death eventually occurred, it would be probably due to a combination of dehydration, starvation, and septic shock.


Used in Asia and Europe, the victim would be hung upside down and then sawn in half starting at the groin.

This would ensure that enough blood was in the brain to keep the victim conscious until the large vessels of the abdomen were severed.


Burning is a type of execution in which a rubber tyre is filled with gasoline, forced over the arms and chest of the victim, and set alight.

It was a common practice in South Africa during the 1980s and 1990s anti-apartheid struggle, sentences were sometimes handed down against alleged criminals by “people’s courts” established in black townships as a means of circumventing the apartheid judicial system.

It was also used to punish members of the black community who were perceived as collaborators with the apartheid regime. These included black policemen, town councilors and others, as well as their relatives and associates.

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Anele is an ardent lover of mystery novels whose love for lists and anything bizarre brought about listwand. You can connect with him on Google plus
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