- The Rack - Probably the most infamous and widely used instrument of torture was the rack which dates back to the ancient Greeks. There are few records of its use before the Middle Ages but, during the Spanish Inquisition, there was a large increase in its use.
- The Brazen Bull - This device was designed in Greece by Perillos of Athens. He was a brass founder and cast the shape of a hollow bull with a door on the side. The condemned person was put inside the bull and a fire was lit underneath the device causing the person to roast to death. It was configured with tubes and pipes so the person screaming inside would sound like the bull was raging.
- Amputation - Even minor crimes in Medieval Europe could send the offenders to the executioner. Varies body parts were amputated or mutilated in lieu of death, although most victims would die from complications from the “procedure”. No body part was off limits.
- Wooden Torture Chair with Steel Blades - Mainly used in China, this chair was a severe form of punishment. Despite its horrific use, these chairs were often ornately decorated with foliage, scrolls and the heads of mythical sea monsters called Macara.
- The Breaking Wheel - This wheel of torture was used to kill criminals in an extremely slow and painful way. This device was a large wagon wheel. People were chained to the wheel at their wrists and ankles. They were then beaten with hammers and stuck with hot pokers. After the torture was complete, prisoners were left attached to the wheel while birds would peck at their flesh until death occurred.
- Punishment of the Wooden Collar - It is composed of two pieces of wood, hollowed out in the middle, which, when put together, leave room for the neck. The weight of the collar ranged from 40 to 200 pounds depending on the severity of the crime. Immobility and public
- Scold’s Bridle (also known as branks) - A 16th century instrument of punishment used primarily on women. The device was an iron muzzle that enclosed the head with a bridle-bit projected into the mouth and pressed on top of the tongue. The curb-plate was often studded with spikes so if the offender moved her tongue, the pain would be unbearable making speech impossible. Women seen as shrews, nags and even witches were often forced to wear the bridle.
Victorian Postmortem Photography
Painting the dead was a common occurrence for centuries, so it’s no surprise that in the Victorian era, postmortem photography became standard practice.
The beginnings of memento mori photography can be traced back to the invention of photography. During the 19th century, postmortem portraits were used to announce and mourn the death of a loved one, especially a baby or child. All social classes engaged in the practice, which became more widespread after the introduction of the daguerreotype photo in 1839. The subjects of the photos were generally arranged to appear as if asleep or even in standing positions.
For the poor during this era, many peoples only photograph was taken after they died. Families would scrape together enough money to have a memorial photo of the deceased family member with surviving members. For many, these staged photos were the only family portraits ever taken. These photos were kept in the family’s memorial album.
Death-Related Horror Props
This year round supplier of death-related and Halloween props makes every body parts and items far more gruesome. Human organs, animal skeletons, or even a mummified baby dragon, are all available in this gory collection.
The name of this house of horrors is called Dapper Cadaver which supplies horror movie props including medical props, dinosaur bones, coffins, caskets, and creepy specimen jars.
(via Atlas Obscura)
By the light of torches, candles or miners lights, haunting scenes centuries old appear to unfold. Scenes of skulls, bones and death are everywhere. The passages can be as low as three feet overhead or even less. The air heavy with dust, and the ground underfoot flooded with grimy water splashing way over your shoes. In tunnels up to 100 feet below the surface bustle of one of the world’s great cities, another clandestine world exists.
Consulting maps, self-trained guides lead the way, while others look for opportunities to take photographs. Exploring the Paris Catacombs, also known as the Mines of Paris, carries risk. For one, it is strictly illegal, with special police and their dogs patrolling the vast subterranean network. There is also a very real danger of getting lost, as well as the chance of cave-ins in some places.
Incredible Intricate Mixed Media Sculptures
Kansas-based artist Kris Kuksi, previously featured on Curious History, opened his fourth solo show, Revival, at the Joshua Liner Gallery in New York on November 21st. Kuksi continues his use of ornate assemblage to create wildly complex sculptures that comment on history, life, death, and spiritual conflict. Revival will be on view through January 18, 2014 and you can see many more pieces from the exhibition in this gallery.
Wrongly Convicted and Executed for Murder
Timothy Evans and his wife, Beryl, often quarreled, and when Beryl found that she was pregnant for the second time, they both agreed that she should have an abortion. In 1949 this was illegal in the United Kingdom, so they took up the offer of a downstairs neighbor to assist them. What they didn’t know was that their neighbor, John Christie, was a serial killer.
Christie murdered Timothy Evans’ wife and baby daughter, but the police did not believe Evans’ story. When they searched John Christie’s apartment, they completely missed the bodies and bones of his previous victims, including Evan’s wife and baby. Fabricated confessions and other police misconduct led to Evans’ wrongful conviction for the murder of his daughter. He was executed by hanging in 1950. In 1953, the bodies of Christie’s victims were finally discovered and he was hanged that same year. A 1966 inquiry cleared Evans of the murders of his wife and daughter and he was granted a posthumous pardon. Cold comfort to a dead man, but thankfully something good did arise from all of this. His case contributed to the movement that abolished the death penalty in Britain. Unfortunately, the United States has not followed suit.