39.4 MB (1.9 MB compressed)
2870 x 4800 pixels
24.4 x 40.6 cm ⏐ 9.6 x 16.0 in (300dpi)
NYPL / SCIENCE SOURCE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NYPL / SCIENCE SOURCE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Detail of an engraving in De Cruce Libri Tres by Justus Lipsius, 1570. Impalement, as a method of execution and also torture, is the penetration of a human by an object such as a stake, pole, spear, or hook, often by complete or partial perforation of the torso. It was used particularly in response to crimes against the state and regarded across a number of cultures as a very harsh form of capital punishment and recorded in myth and art. Impalement was also used during wartime to suppress rebellion, punish traitors or collaborators, and as a punishment for breaches of military discipline. Offenders have also been impaled for a variety of cultural, sexual and religious reasons. References to impalement in Babylonia and the Neo-Assyrian Empire are found as early as the 18th century BC. Within the Ottoman Empire, this form of execution continued into the 20th century. Woodcut from Sebastian Munster's Cosmographia, 1552.
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