A SKELETON unearthed near Milan Cathedral is an example of one of the most horrific execution methods in history.
The remains of the medieval young man show he was shattered to death on a wheel of torture, which was once used to punish criminals.
The skeleton showed signs of horrific torture. He was found buried next to buckle bindings (not pictured), which may have been used to keep his body togetherJournal of Archaeological Science / Università degli Studi di Milano
Death by torture is thought to have been common in medieval Italy and skilled executioners used lots of different methods and devices to inflict agonising pain.
However, the researchers who found the skeleton in question published an article in the Journal of Archaeological Science detailing how it could be one of the most horrific cases of torture ever found.
Archaeologists think the victim was a short man aged between 17 and 20.
He would have had bucked teeth and facial disfigurations that could have led to him being tortured for looking different.
The torture wheel method saw people attached to a wooden wheel and then dropped so they broke bones.
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The number of times a wheel was dropped was often decided by a court and sometimes a victim would be dropped onto sharp objects.
A victim would have their broken limbs threaded through the wheel spokes so the torture could continue.
Some wheels were also pushed down hills or rotated over fire.
Torturers would use blades, whips and other weapons on the helpless person on the wheel before displaying their body in a public place so others were warned not to commit similar crimes.
Some victims would survive for days before dying but the lucky ones died immediately.
Even luckier people broke the wheel or fell from the torture device.
This was sometimes seen as an act of mercy from god and the victim could go free.
The young bucked tooth medieval man near Milan Cathedral was not so lucky.
What did the man do?
His remains were found with two buckle bindings, which are thought to be a telltale sign of the young man’s demise.
Archaeologists discovered the ‘torture victim’ along with 56 other individuals dating from the Roman Empire to the 16th century.
These skeletons were found underneath San Ambrogio Square in Milan but the shattered medieval remains of a young man stood out because he had clearly suffered a more painful death.
Radio-chemical testing suggests he lived between 1290 and 1430AD.
It was initially thought that he had died in battle but the skeletal wounds were so horrific and different to the other skeletons around him that it was clear something much more sinister had happened.
The long bones in his arms and legs and been shattered in a precise way, he had a stab wound in his back and there is evidence to suggest a bungled beheading attempt occurred before the final punishment of the wheel.
The buckles found next to the skeleton are the key linking factor to the wheel of death theory.
It is thought that the buckles bound broken body parts together or bound a shroud onto the victim.
There are few archaeological examples of this torture method, likely because it was reserved for people who committed the worst kind of crimes like spreading the Black Death.
However, the researchers think that this man could have been killed merely for looking different to the rest of society as he had bucked teeth and was 4.3 inches shorter than the average height for his age.
They argued that, in a materialistic society, this person may have sparked mass-hysteria and may have been blamed for problems by an angry crowd.
If this is true then the remains could represent a tragic historic discrimination event.
Previous research has suggested that people in medieval Italy would often treat people with disfigurements cruelly.
The researchers wrote: “This case describes for the first time the remains of a victim of the wheel and underlines the importance of archaeology and anthropology in reconstructing cases of violation of human rights in the past.”
Journal of Archaeological Science / Università degli Studi di MilanoBlunt force had been used to break the skeleton’s bones[/caption]
The victim had bucked teeth and may have been murdered for looking differentJournal of Archaeological Science / Università degli Studi di Milano With compliments of Elsevier (2019)
The young man may have been tortured on a wheel like this
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