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11 Horrific, And Thankfully Historical, Ways In Which Humans Killed Each Other

Humans have always been creative when it comes to killing each other.

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1. Celtic druids in the British Isles were said to fill wicker figures with people who would then be burned alive as sacrificial offerings.

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According to the ancient Roman thinker Strabo, Celts would round up humans and animals, stuff them in wicker effigies, then burn them alive as a sacrificial offering to their gods. No modern archeological evidence has been found to prove this (though there is evidence of other types of human sacrifice among Celts), so it's entirely possible that this was ancient Roman propaganda made to paint Celts and pagans as particularly barbaric. Either way, The Wicker Man is a great film.

2. The Romans executed their criminals in elaborate rituals, usually involving the prisoners re-enacting a myth that resulted in gruesome and humiliating deaths.

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Though Romans found the idea of human sacrifice abhorrent and banned it everywhere within their kingdom, they were still partial to gory entertainment. There are instances of criminals being burnt alive in imitation of Hercules, or chained up and having their entrails torn out like in the story of Prometheus, and a female prisoner being forced to have sex with a bull like Pasiphae (the mother of the Minotaur, who was cursed to develop ~feelings~ for a bull). If the prisoner survived the ordeal, she'd have been killed after.

3. The ancient Greeks also had their fair share of bull-themed, horrific executions.

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The Brazen Bull was a system in which the victim was placed inside a bronze bull. The sculpture would then be heated, roasting the person inside – and thanks to an acoustic apparatus, their screams would come out sounding like the cries of a bull.

4. Hitobashira was a practice in Japan that involved burying a living person at the foot or in the walls of a building to ensure its successful construction.

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Usually, they were volunteers, often samurai who willingly became the new guardians of temples.

5. In fact, it was common practice all over the world. From mentions in the Old Testament to discoveries in India, there are buildings and bridges in the walls and structures of which the bodies of women, men, and children can be found.

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For example, there was a legend surrounding the medieval German castle of Nieder Manderscheid, claiming a young maiden was buried within the walls. When the wall of the castle was broken into in 1844, a skeleton was embedded in it.

6. The Aztecs would take prisoners, then fatten them up and later sacrifice them to their sun god by tearing out the heart. The corpse would be tumbled down the stairs of the pyramid on which the sacrifice took place.

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The body would not go to waste. At least three of the limbs would go to the captor (whoever captured the prisoner on the battlefield), and would be served at a feast at their property in a stew. The head would be removed and put on display by the temple, and the torso would be given to the zoo and fed to carnivorous animals.

7. Before the introduction of Christianity, the people of Fiji would strangle the widows of recently deceased men.

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It was believed that only married people could enter the afterlife, and that wives must accompany their husbands as proof of their marriage. Often, the women were ready and willing in this ritual, partially because they knew if they weren't, they would be ostracized from their community. They would often build their own tombs, more out of fear of the surviving community than necessarily love for their deceased husbands. If a wife died, however, the husband did not have to be killed – his beard being shaved off and placed under her armpit was apparently sufficient evidence of marriage in the afterlife.

8. Vestal Virgins were sacred in Ancient Rome – they were priestesses of the goddess Vesta, and their chastity was seen as being directly linked with the health of Rome. If a Vestal Virgin had sex, this would be treated as an act of treason and her punishment would be to be buried alive.

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The Vestal Virgins were chosen to join the priesthood well before puberty, and then swore an oath of celibacy for 30 years. They were seen as pure and holy, and the punishment for hurting one was death. Which is why, when a vestal was sentenced to death, the only appropriate method of execution was burying her alive, as that would not spill her blood. It was also illegal for anyone to be buried alive within the confines of the city, so the priestess would be put into an underground room with enough food and water for a few days, so that she wasn't technically being buried alive.

9. In ancient Mongol law, it was forbidden to spill royal blood. Of course, you don't conquer the largest kingdom in history without killing off a few nobles – so they crushed them to death instead.

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The Mongols had to come up with much more creative solutions to kill off nobles without spilling their blood. Often they would crack their necks to end their lives in one swift, clean movement, but other times it was a bit more elaborate. In one instance, they captured Mstislav III, the Grand Prince of Kiev. The Mongols then tied him and his generals up and placed a wooden slab over them. Then they feasted and partied on top of the slab, slowly crushing their royal enemies to death beneath them, all while having a grand ol' time.

10. During the Dutch Revolt in the 16th century, the Dutch would kill – or at least torture – their political prisoners using rats, who would gnaw through the abdomens of the victims.

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A prisoner would be tied up, lying flat. A bowl or cage full of live rats would be placed on their torso, with the open side down on their stomach. Hot coal would then be placed on top of the bowl, and in an attempt to escape the heat, the rats would gnaw their way through the bowels of the victim.

11. In medieval Sweden, prisoners could be sentenced to the "Cave of Roses" – which sounds far nicer than it was, because instead of roses the cave was actually filled with thousands of poisonous insects and reptiles.

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Prisoners were sent into a cave filled with venomous snakes, reptiles, and insects and were eventually stung and poisoned to death. At times it was dark, and victims didn't know where the deadly critters were, and other times it was well-lit so that they would watch each other die. Either way, literally my worst nightmare.