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Scaphism was a Crappy Way to Die

Scaphism was a Crappy Way to Die

If you’re bothered by bodily fluids – please don’t read this!


Of all the torture methods we’ve written about so far, this one is definitely one of my top worst ways to go. Scaphism supposedly dates back to ancient Persia, and whoever came up with it was seriously fucked up! It takes a special kind of person to think this shit up, pun intended. 


There is no physical evidence of scaphism. It has only been mentioned in literature. It was written by the Greek philosopher Ploutarchos. He claimed that it was how a Persian soldier named Mithridates was killed. He was executed for killing a Persian prince. Scaphism is mentioned in other literature, but they all appear to be based on Ploutarchos’s story. But – whether fact or fiction, SOMEONE thought it up!!


A person sentenced to die by scaphism had a long, disgusting death waiting for them. Another name for it was “the boats”. A victim was tied naked inside a boat. Another boat was placed over them so only their head and arms could be visible. The boat was placed outdoors. Then their captors would feed them large amounts of milk and honey.

If the prisoner refused to eat they were force-fed. After that, they were forced to swallow milk and honey. The combination would cause vomiting and diarrhea. The torturer would also pour honey over their heads. Are you grossed out yet? No? Well, don’t forget that they’re inside a boat. 


The combination of diarrhea and vomit would create a breeding ground for maggots. It attracts rats and flies. The victim’s body is covered in feces and vomit, which attracts the creatures to more than just the bottom of the boat. Eventually, the maggots and rats would start eating the prisoner’s body. Sometimes even crawling inside of them. It could take days or weeks for them to die.


Meanwhile, the boat is out in the sun and the prisoner’s skin would get sunburn that continually gets worse. (And as someone who’s had sun poisoning – it’s really painful!) Real or not, scaphism sounds like the most horrible and macabre way to die. 

No matter what topics we research and how awful they are, the cruelty of some people never ceases to amaze me.



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