The skeletal remains of a medieval young man, excavated near Milan Cathedral, is a particular instance of one of the most horrific execution methods in history, when he was shattered to death on a wheel of torture, which was once used to punish criminals.
It is believed that death by torture was typical in Middle-Aged Italy, and several distinct procedures and a lot of equipment were deployed by adept executioners. Nonetheless, researchers who discovered the skeleton in question have detailed how this could be one of the most terrible examples of torture ever discovered.
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 together
The victim was believed to be a short male teenager between 17 and 20 years old. He would have had bucked teeth and facial disfigurations that might have led to him being tortured for looking different. In the torture wheel method, people are attached to a wooden wheel and then dropped so that their bones are shattered.
The court would be the one to determine the number of times a wheel was dropped, and occasionally a victim would be dropped onto sharp items. The victims would have their broken limbs threaded through the wheel spokes to keep the torture going. In some cases, wheels were also pushed down hills or rotated over fire.
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Torture was typical in the Medieval period
Meanwhile, blades, whips and other weapons may even be used on the helpless person on the wheel, before their body is publicly displayed to warn others not to commit similar crimes. Some victims would still live for days before eventually dying, but luckier ones died immediately.
The luckiest would break the wheel or fall from the torture device. This was sometimes seen as an act of mercy from god and the victim could be released. However, the young bucked tooth medieval man near Milan Cathedral was not so lucky.
Blunt force had been used to break the skeleton’s bones
What did the man do?
The skeleton of the teenager was discovered with 2 buckle bindings, believed to be a telltale sign of his demise. He was found alongside 56 other remains dating from the Roman Empire to the 16th century, underneath San Ambrogio Square in Milan. The young man’s remains were clearly noticed because apparently, he went through a much more agonizing death.
He might have lived between 1290 and 1430 AD, according to radio-chemical examination. Scientists first assumed that he died in battle, but the skeletal injuries were so frightful and different compared to the other remains around, proving that apparently, something much more disturbing had occurred.
The victim had bucked teeth and may have been murdered for looking different
The long bones in his arms and legs had been accurately broken, and the man had a stab wound in his back, while there is also proof of a clumsily decapitating effort, prior to the ultimate punishment from the wheel. The buckles discovered next to the skeleton are the vital connecting element to the theory that the wheel of torture was used.
Scientists believe that the buckles were used to bind broken body parts together, or to bind a shroud onto the victim. There are, however, not many archaeological instances of this torture method, possibly due to it being only used upon people who committed to worst kind of crimes, such as spreading the Black Death.
The young man may have been tortured on a wheel like this
Meanwhile, a number of researchers assume that the young victim might have been killed just for his weird look compared to other members of the society. The man had bucked teeth and was 4.3 inches tall, much shorter than the average figure for his age. The argument is that in a materialistic community, he might have sparked mass-hysteria, blamed for problems by an angry crowd.
If that is the truth, his skeleton might depict a dreadful historic discrimination event. Former studies indicated that Middle-Age Italians occasionally treated people with disfigurements cruelly. “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.”