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Execution, Death by Elephant, 12th Century

Execution, Death by Elephant, 12th Century

C044/6797

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38.8 MB (3.5 MB compressed)

4950 x 2737 pixels

41.9 x 23.1 cm ⏐ 16.5 x 9.1 in (300dpi)

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Credit

NYPL / SCIENCE SOURCE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NYPL / SCIENCE SOURCE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Bas-relief of execution by elephant at Preah Khan (Royal Sword) a temple at Angkor, Cambodia, built in the 12th century. Execution by elephant was a common method of capital punishment in South and Southeast Asia, particularly in India, where Asian elephants were used to crush, dismember, or torture captives in public executions. The animals were trained and versatile, able to kill victims immediately or to torture them slowly over a prolonged period. Most commonly employed by royalty, the elephants were used to signify both the ruler's absolute power and his ability to control wild animals. Elephants are widely reported to have been used to carry out executions in Southeast Asia, and were used in Burma and Malaysia from the earliest historical times as well as in the kingdom of Champa on the other side of the Indochinese Peninsula. In Siam, elephants were trained to throw the condemned into the air before trampling them to death.

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