The wheel is known as one of the, if not the most effective inventions in human history. Almost every domain of human society was fundamentally changed — including agriculture and transportation.
But the wheel was also used for more malicious intent: executions and torture. The name for wheels used for this malicious purpose is now the “breaking wheel.”
According to Geoffrey Abbott, author of What a Way to Go, the wheel started as a method of execution under the cruel Roman emperor of Commodus, memorialized by The Gladiator. Commodus secured people on a bench, then rolled a wheel with iron…
“For nearly three centuries, until the end of Roman rule in Britain in 410, Hadrian’s Wall was the clearest statement possible of the might, resourcefulness, and determination of an individual emperor and of his empire,” — Jarrett Lobell, Archaeology
It’s no secret I’ve been re-watching Game of Thrones, the HBO show my friends just couldn’t shut up about for several years. If I’m being honest, I didn’t even watch all of the show the first time: I was the guy who read the books, so this is my first serious watch-through. In the show, there’s a wall at the north…
In Game of Thrones, a universally unliked and hated character is killed by molten gold. The man begged for a crown, and he is quite literally given one in a symbolic death.
But execution by molten gold has a long history. The Journal of Clinical Pathology notes the Jivaro tribe of present-day Ecuador once poured gold down the throat of a hated Spanish governor in 1599, who taxed the tribe unfairly and heavily for the gold trade. The man’s internal organs burst in a symbolic killing of justice.
But this was not the first instance of pouring gold down someone’s…
The Tulsa Race Massacre has garnered national attention in the last year and in the wake of America’s racial reckoning following the murder of George Floyd in May of 2020. The massacre led to the destruction of Black Wall Street in Tulsa in 1921, as well as the death of over 300 people, despite records at the time of only 36 people dying.
The reckoning surrounding the Tulsa Race Massacre gained so much momentum that President Joe Biden made a speech to commemorate the 100th anniversary this year:
“TO OUR READERS. The New Yorker this week devotes its entire editorial space to an article on the almost complete obliteration of a city by one atomic bomb, and what happened to the people of that city. It does so in the conviction that few of us have yet comprehended the all but incredible destructive power of this weapon, and that everyone might well take time to consider the terrible implications of its use. The Editors.” — The New Yorker, August 31, 1946
In high school, my history teacher had me write an extra credit assignment on John Hersey’s Hiroshima…
“Covered with the skins of beasts, [the Christians] were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.” — Tacitus, Annals 15.44
The Roman Candle is the name of a firework that originated in China. It ejects exploding shells into the air and then launches a star out of a tube and into the sky. The Roman Candle comes in both big and small sizes and is banned in many U.S. states due to its danger and explosiveness.
It was originally used to treat morning sickness in pregnant women, and marketed by a German pharmaceutical company as safe. It was known to be so safe it didn’t need a prescription.
Michael Winerip at the New York Times said the pharmaceutical company, Chemie Grünenthal, was so successful at marketing the drug it became as popular as aspirin in some European countries. The drug would expand into Australia and some South American countries.
The French Revolution is known as one of the revolutions in which the citizens’ demands for equality and freedom were achieved, and women’s role in this revolution was very decisive. Women have been at the forefront of the revolution and have internalized the revolution to a large extent with the dream of being equal and free citizens.
Well, did the French Revolution really accept women as equal and free citizens? Or, as seen in many social events such as the Iranian Revolution and the Arab Spring, did the male-dominated executive use women during the revolution and sentence her to the…
“Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste to nations and their land.” — 2 Kings 19:17, ESV
Much Assyrian artwork shows the empire flaying its victims. The most brutal of dictators would impale prisoners’ heads on stakes. They would have large-scale deportations, burn their victims, and tear our the tongues of people who crossed them.
I recently finished listening to Dan Carlin’s podcast, King of Kings. In the podcast, Carlin describes the Assyrian Empire at great length, and goes as far as to describe them as the “ancient Nazis.” Carlin calls the Assyrians “the ruins of something…
“Yesterday I tried to write a description of a most horrible sight. It was so revoltingly cruel, so barbarous, so infamously brutal, that I gave it up.” — a special correspondent of the London Morning Advertiser in 1882.
On a ship, the keel is the bottom of the ship. Normally, not much happened on the keel, but sometimes, sailors would get thrown at the bottom of the heel to be tortured and sometimes killed. This practice would have a sailor tied to the ship, or tied to a line of the ship, and get dragged along the heel. …
Stories from history in context.