Scaphism: The horrific Persian method of execution that sees you devoured by insects in your own excrement

Scaphism was a novel and brutal method of execution patented by the Persian Empire, which became a subject of ancient greek and Byzantine literature as they sought to resist domination by their eastern neighbours.

According to Greek sources, Scaphism seen the victim lodged between two boats in a container. The boat was cut so that his arms and head were sticking out of the front. Before being locked inside, the victim’s body was covered in milk and honey, which was designed to attract insects.

As part of the torture, the individual was then also force fed more milk and honey to the point of being sick, designed to give him extreme diarrhoea which of course gathered everywhere behind him. He was then left out in the sun. Here, covered in sweet substances and soon his own excrement, the condemned would soon attract many insects and flies that would settle on his body and reproduce en masse in the filth, which would gradually see him consumed alive and of course slowly die in the putrid conditions.

There are some questions to be asked regarding the historicity of this practice, not least because the sources, which were of Greek origin, sought to depict Persians as barbaric in struggles against it which lasted thousands of years. It was said that King of Persia, Artaxerxes II, used this method to execute someone who killed his brother Cyrus the Younger in contention for the Persian throne. As a capital punishment, this is quite plausible.

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