Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Animated engraving showing the examination of a guillotined head. In a novel, Alexandre Dumas had claimed that a head retained its senses for two hours after decapitation, giving rise to a controversy as to whether or not death was instantaneous. If not, the guillotine could be considered a cruel method of execution. The 1803 public execution of 20 brigands, including the notorious Schinderhannes, gave the Medical Association of Mainz the opportunity to conduct a range of experiments on the executed bodies. Two doctors remained beneath the scaffold and examined the decapitated heads following execution. They obtained no response from the heads, and demonstrated that life was extinct and death instantaneous. Therefore guillotining could be considered a humane method of execution.

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Keywords: 1803, alexandre dumas, bodies of criminals, decapitation, execution, extinction, guillotine, humane method of execution, instantaneous death, mainz, medical experiments, medical research, schinderhannes, severed head

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Studying a guillotined head

K004/4329 Rights Managed

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Duration: 00:00:10

Frame size: 1920x1080

Frame rate: 25

Audio: No

Format: QuickTime, Photo JPEG 100%, progressive scan, square pixels

File size: 444.7M

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Capture format: Digital Rostrum

Codec: TIFF

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