15 Most Disturbing Torture Devices In History

It’s an average day in an average city. It is sort of cloudy, you think it may begin to rain soon and you try to huddle towards some shelter. You enter a mall and plan on cutting through it as you hea

It’s an average day in an average city. It is sort of cloudy, you think it may begin to rain soon and you try to huddle towards some shelter. You enter a mall and plan on cutting through it as you head to work. A bomb goes off. Half of the mall has been blown to bits; screams and smoke fill the air. Authorities have the culprit. They know he has hidden another bomb somewhere in the city, but he is not talking. Minutes go by; he is not talking…minutes go by; he is not talking...minutes go by; he is still not talking. The chief interrogator begins to sweat: he knows there is not much time left, he wonders if he would be justified to proceed with torture, seeing no other alternative.

Though in modern society torture is a hot button issue, for hundreds of years it was deemed, if not morally acceptable, necessary. Torture has been used as far back as ancient times and as recently as today. Used to extort confessions, to punish or even for entertainment, torture devices constitute a horrific part of the history of crime and punishment. The human body is fragile, and as human beings are creative as well as resourceful, a wide variety of torture methods have been invented. The following list highlights history’s 10 most cruel torture devices ever conceived.

*Readers be warned: the information you are about to read is not pleasant and is not for the faint or weak of heart.*

10 Brazen Bull

9 The Pear of Anguish

8 Head Crusher

7 Iron Chair

6 Breast Ripper

5 Catherine Wheel

4 Rat Torture

Game of Thrones is both a popular HBO television show and book series (although the name of the book series is technically A Song of Ice and Fire). Despite it being fictional and taking place in an alternate universe, it still contains some historical accuracy, including the Rat Torture scene in the fourth episode of the second series, “Garden of Bones” (not recommended to watch if you have a weak stomach). The first step for rat torture is tying down the victim. Next, a rat is put on the victim’s stomach and a metal container is placed over the rat. The container is then heated, making the rat look for a way to escape. Not being able to claw through metal, the rat would instead burrow through the victim’s stomach ultimately resulting in a slow, painful death.

3 Judas Cradle

Picture a stool, with a pyramidal seat. Now picture slowly being lowered onto that seat while naked: this is the Judas Cradle. The Judas Cradle was yet another medieval torture device. The victim would be held up in the air with ropes or chains and slowly lowered onto the pyramidal stool, with the tip of the stool inserted into the victim’s anus or vagina. Victims could be left on the Judas Cradle anywhere between several hours or several days, with weights sometimes added to increase pain. Resulting death almost certain: if the victim did not die of impalement, they would most likely die of an infection soon after.

2 The Rack

1 Scaphism

Of all the forms of torture previously discussed on this list, Scaphism may be one of the slowest and most horrifying. The name of the torture originates from the Greek word for “skaphe,” which means “scooped out.” The unfortunate victim would be stripped down and strapped to a boat or similar container, with another boat on top to form a sort of coffin with the victim’s arms, legs and head protruding. The victim would then be force-fed mass amounts of milk and honey to result in intense diarrhoea; extra honey would be smothered on the victim to attract swarms of bugs. The boat would then be set adrift in a body of water, as the victim lay exposed to the sun and elements, soaking in their own excrements. Death occurred after days of being out on the water and could be caused by dehydration, starvation, septic shock or a combination of all three. In one case recorded, the victim survived for a shocking 17 days!


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15 Most Disturbing Torture Devices In History