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Shattered skeleton of a young medieval man snapped and stabbed on the ‘wheel of torture’ revealed

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The ancient skeleton of a man killed on the medieval wheel of torture reveals the horrific deadly injuries that it inflicted on the human body. 

The man, who lived in medieval Milan, Italy, was found alongside two buckles, thought to have formed part of his restraint while being mauled by the brutal device. 

Studies of the man’s shattered bones reveal he was young, aged between 17 and 20 years old when he died, and lived between 1290 and 1430. 

The agonising list of his wounds include clean breaks to all his long arm and leg bones, a smashed face, a stab wound in the spine and a deep skull fracture.  

Experts say this indicates the man was horrifically beaten on the wheel and a beheading was attempted to end his life. But this failed, and he likely died a slow death from his injuries. 

It is not known for what crime the man was being punished, but the researchers say it could have been merely for looking different to the rest of society as he had protruding teeth and was 4.3 inches shorter than average. 

The researchers wrote in the study: ‘This case describes for the first time the remains of a victim of the wheel and underlines the importance of archaeology and anthropology in reconstructing cases of violation of human rights in the past.’ 

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The man experienced horrific injuries before a beheading was attempted to end his life. This failed, and he likely died a slow death from his injuries (pictured, the location of his wounds)

The man experienced horrific injuries before a beheading was attempted to end his life. This failed, and he likely died a slow death from his injuries (pictured, the location of his wounds)

His impressive list of wounds include clean breaks to all his long arm and leg bones, a smashed face, a stab wound in the spine and a deep skull fracture

His impressive list of wounds include clean breaks to all his long arm and leg bones, a smashed face, a stab wound in the spine and a deep skull fracture

They studied 56 remains of people buried at San Ambrogio Square and dating from the Roman Empire to the 16th century. He was also hoisted up on a pole before being lowered and stabbed repeatedly before the bungled decapitation attempt (pictured, the damage from the bungled beheading)

They studied 56 remains of people buried at San Ambrogio Square and dating from the Roman Empire to the 16th century. He was also hoisted up on a pole before being lowered and stabbed repeatedly before the bungled decapitation attempt (pictured, the damage from the bungled beheading)

WHAT WAS THE WHEEL OF TORTURE?  

The wheel of torture is one of the most barbaric and horrific methods of torture ever invented. 

People, often criminals, were tied to a wooden wheel while a tormentor smashed their bones with a weapon.

It was often reserved for heinous acts, like spreading the black death.

Death would have been slow and extremely painful. 

Evidence of people slaughtered this way has rarely been conclusively found. 

It was abolished in Bavaria in 1813 and in the Electorate of Hesse in 1836.

The last use of the wheel was in 1841 and took place in Russia.   

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People, often criminals, were tied to a wooden wheel while a tormentor smashed their bones with a weapon. 

The research, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, revealed his limbs were threaded through the spokes of a wheel.

They studied 56 remains of people buried at San Ambrogio Square and dating from the Roman Empire to the 16th century.

He was also hoisted up on a pole before being lowered and stabbed repeatedly before the bungled decapitation attempt.  

The researchers postulate that the buckles may have been used to fix a shroud to keep the broken body parts together.

Death by the wheel of torture was rarely used, and archaeological remains have rarely been found. 

Often, victims served with the punishment were put on public display for months, and sometimes even years to act as a deterrent. 

The bones, shattered from the beating, would be carried away by birds and animals as they were left exposed to the elements. 

It is thought this contributed to the serious lack of archaeological evidence of the wheel.

It was reserved for the most severe of crimes and was rarely used. 

Although it was reserved for heinous acts, like spreading the black death, researchers say it is possible this individual was subjected to the torrid fate as a result of being a ‘social freak’. 

Analysis of his remains reveals he was considerably shorter than most people (4.3 inches/11 centimetres) and had buckled teeth. 

They say his unusual appearance may have led to his demise in a culture which was quick to judge, laugh and discriminate.  

Although it was reserved for heinous acts, like spreading the black death, researchers say it is possible this individual was subjected to the torrid fate as a result of being a 'social freak'. Analysis of his remains reveals he was considerably shorter than most people (4.3 inches/11 centimetres) and had buckled teeth (pictured)

Although it was reserved for heinous acts, like spreading the black death, researchers say it is possible this individual was subjected to the torrid fate as a result of being a ‘social freak’. Analysis of his remains reveals he was considerably shorter than most people (4.3 inches/11 centimetres) and had buckled teeth (pictured)

Death by the wheel of torture was rarely used, and archaeological remains have rarely been found.The presence of the buckles and the location and severity of his injuries shows he was likely one of the first victims of the barbaric torture method

 Death by the wheel of torture was rarely used, and archaeological remains have rarely been found.The presence of the buckles and the location and severity of his injuries shows he was likely one of the first victims of the barbaric torture method 

People, often criminals, were tied to a wooden wheel while a tormentor smashed their bones with a weapon. The research, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science , revealed his limbs were threaded through the spokes of a wheel

People, often criminals, were tied to a wooden wheel while a tormentor smashed their bones with a weapon. The research, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science , revealed his limbs were threaded through the spokes of a wheel 

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