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Ancient Persia's Horrifying Method of Torture and Death

By leon shahiPublished 10 months ago 4 min read

Throughout history, human beings have devised countless methods of punishment, some of which are so gruesome and inhumane that they continue to haunt us even today. One such method, originating from ancient Persia, stands out as one of the most horrifying and brutal forms of torture and execution ever conceived: Scaphism, also known as the "boats."

The Origins of Scaphism

Scaphism was a method of punishment employed by ancient Persians, dating back to the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. The word "scaphism" is derived from the Greek word "skaphe," meaning "boat" or "ship." The ancient Greeks were among the first to document the details of this ghastly execution method, describing it in their historical writings.

The Process of Scaphism

Scaphism was an excruciatingly slow and torturous execution method, designed to cause immense suffering and draw out the victim's death as long as possible. The condemned individual would be placed between two boats, or sometimes hollowed-out tree trunks, with only their head, hands, and feet exposed.

Once secured in this dreadful position, the victim would be force-fed a mixture of milk and honey. The captors believed that this diet would lead to uncontrollable diarrhea, further intensifying the torment.

The Curse of Attraction

The true horror of scaphism lay in its ingenious design to attract insects and pests to the victim's exposed and soiled body. As the feces and wounds attracted swarms of insects, the victim became a living breeding ground for various creepy-crawlies, including mosquitoes, flies, and other biting insects.

The insects feasted upon the victim's flesh, leaving behind festering wounds and open sores, causing unimaginable pain. The condemned individual was left in a perpetual state of agony, slowly losing their sanity as the insects burrowed into their skin.

A Slow and Agonizing Demise

The continuous cycle of torment and infection would lead to a myriad of excruciating medical conditions, including gangrene and septicemia. As the body progressively weakened, the victim's cries for mercy echoed hopelessly in the desolate surroundings.

The authorities intended to make an example of the condemned, using the prolonged and public nature of the execution to instill fear in the populace. The mere mention of scaphism would strike terror into the hearts of potential wrongdoers, as they feared suffering a similar fate.

Historical Instances of Scaphism

The most infamous historical instance of scaphism involved the execution of the Persian noble Mithridates, who plotted to assassinate the Persian King Darius II. When Mithridates' plot was discovered, he was sentenced to this dreadful form of execution. His slow and agonizing death was meant to serve as a grim warning to any who dared challenge the authority of the Persian monarchy.

Another documented instance involved the Greek military leader, Alcibiades, who lived during the Peloponnesian War. Though Alcibiades narrowly escaped scaphism, he was eventually executed through other means, marking the end of his tumultuous life.

The Psychological Warfare

Apart from the unimaginable physical pain, scaphism also inflicted psychological trauma on both the victim and those forced to witness it. The anticipation and dread of the impending torture weighed heavily on the minds of the condemned, making each passing moment an eternity of terror.

For the audience, the prolonged suffering of the victim became a grotesque spectacle, meant to evoke feelings of fear, subjugation, and absolute submission to authority. Such public displays of cruelty reinforced the idea that rebellion or defiance would be met with unbearable consequences.

The Role of Public Execution

Scaphism served as an instrument of state power, used not only to punish criminals but also to maintain social order and prevent dissent. The graphic and public nature of the execution aimed to strike fear into the hearts of potential lawbreakers, discouraging them from committing crimes and challenging authority.

As societies evolved and human rights norms emerged, public executions like scaphism came under scrutiny. Gradually, societies began to question the morality of such barbaric practices and their effectiveness in deterring crime.

The Decline of Scaphism

With the passage of time and the evolution of human civilization, societies began to question the morality of such barbaric practices. As the world moved towards more enlightened and humane ideals, the practice of scaphism faded into history.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Enlightenment thinkers, humanitarians, and legal reformers pushed for more humane methods of punishment. The advocacy for criminal justice reforms led to the abolishment of gruesome practices like scaphism in many parts of the world.


The horrors of scaphism stand as a stark reminder of the dark depths of human cruelty and the unspeakable pain that human beings are capable of inflicting upon one another. While we may find solace in the fact that such gruesome punishments are now relics of the past, we must remember that they existed once and were a product of the societies that perpetuated them.

As we continue to progress as a global community, it is vital to learn from the atrocities of history and strive towards a future where justice is balanced with compassion and understanding. By acknowledging the dark chapters of our past, we can better appreciate the significance of promoting empathy, respect, and dignity for all, leaving the brutal practices of scaphism and other inhumane methods where they belong – in the annals of history. Let us remember the suffering endured by those who fell victim to scaphism as we work towards a world where justice is administered with fairness, humanity, and mercy.

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About the Creator

leon shahi

Hello there!

How are you ? hope you are fine !


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