10 Worst Ways People Have Been Tortured To Death

History's most horrific tortures were both brilliant and barbaric...

Ishikawa Goemon
Utagawa Kunisada [Public domain]

It is often said that the worst way to extract information from someone is to torture them. Nobody knows that better than the torturers themselves men and women throughout history who crafted the most brutal and disturbing means of execution through pain.

Throughout all of recorded history, nearly every culture on the planet has implemented one form of torture or another. Many are well known while some are fortunately buried deep in the history books where only the most curious may find them.

Whether these methods were devised as a means of extracting information, punishing people for crimes perceived and actual, or simply as a way of killing them with the most pain possible, all are brutal and horrific. Seeing as the victims were all killed using these methods and devices, the means of torture are ranked by how much pain they inflicted over the longest period of time. A short, sweet death is not going to appear on this list and every method is truly horrific.

Be warned: Some of the descriptions and images used in this list are not for the light-hearted. If descriptions and depictions of torture make you queasy, read with caution!

10. Scaphism

Ishikawa Goemon
Pop Trigger / YouTube

Of all the ways people have thought up to kill someone, scaphism is probably the most disgusting. This method of torture was often called "The Boats" and was used by the ancient Persians for the sole purpose of a lengthy execution.

The victim was placed within a floating raft or enclosed barrel with their limbs tied to the sides so they couldn't move. They were force-fed milk and honey until they filled their enclosure with diarrhea — this could take the better part of a day or more to accomplish.

Their waste attracted vermin including flies, worms, parasites, and other insects that would feast on the waste while laying eggs on, around, and inside the victim who could barely move to stop it. What resulted was the victim's death as a result of a combination of factors: exposure, intense pain from insects burrowing inside their bodies, and septic shock. Death could take as long as two to three weeks in extreme cases.

The historical account of Persian scaphism comes from Plutarch's description of the execution of Mithridates who is said to have taken 17 days to expire. Later chroniclers of the time period describe the detailed torture of others using this horrific method.

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Jonathan is a graphic artist, illustrator, writer, and game designer. Jonathan retired from the U.S. Army in 2017 and enjoys researching and writing about history, science, theology, and many other subjects. He writes for ScreenRant, CBR, NerdBastards, Listverse, Ranker, WhatCulture, and many other sites online. You can check out his latest on Twitter: @TalkingBull or on his blog: jonathanhkantor.com