The world's tallest man, Robert Wadlow at age 21 standing with his family, 1939

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The world's tallest man, Robert Wadlow at age 21 standing with his family, 1939 Read more

The process of binding feet starts before the arch is fully develop

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For almost a thousand years the little girls of China would have their feet tightly wrapped in bandages in hopes of stopping the foot’s growth. This caused their toes to curl and the feet to shrivel in on themselves and creating the illusion of petite feet when they were actually just deforming and crippling themselves and their children. Feet measuring no longer than three inches and crescent in shape were the most desired. In addition to being a symbol of beauty, smaller feet reflected a higher social status and wealth. After all, women who didn’t need their feet to work must have Read more

The Mayans used to sacrifice people by pulling their still-beating hearts out of their chests

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Human sacrifice in Maya culture was a ritual offering of nourishment to the gods. Blood from any living creature was considered a potent source of nourishment, so by extension, the sacrifice of a human life was the ultimate offering there was. Generally, it was high-status prisoners of war that were sacrificed, and a number of different methods were employed. The most common being decapitation and heart extraction. Other forms of sacrifice practiced included ritual shooting with arrows, hurling sacrifices into a deep sinkhole, entombing the sacrifice alive (to accompany a noble burial), and Read more

The Catholic Church used a hand crushing machine in the 15th century to punish those with “greedy hands."

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This insane, diabolical hand crushing machine was actually used by members of the Catholic Church back in the 15th century to punish those with “greedy hands.” And here we thought it was “idle hands that did the devil’s work”... hate to see what the church would do to a pair of those! Sadly, this contraption isn’t even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to torture devices. Human beings of all cultures and religions have always found the most horrific ways to inflict punishment on others. Thankfully this disturbing little number has been long retired! Read more

Criminals could be locked up in a wooden box in Mongolia

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This disturbing photo was taken in July 1913 by French photographer Albert Kahn. He often took trips through exotic countries and it was during a visit in Mongolia that he happened upon this woman who had been condemned to slow and painful starvation. She was boxed up in what would become her tomb (as can be seen here) and deposited in a remote desert. There were bowls of water on the ground and the prisoner is allowed to beg passerby for food, though not much is given. The photographer was forced to leave her there, it would be against a prime directive of anthropologists to intervene in a Read more

In the early 20th century, individuals would sometimes elect to have death masks made of the recently deceased

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Death masks are sometimes wax or plaster cast of a mold that was taken from the face of a dead person. Essentially, a death mask is a true portrait of the dead, although some changes can be made if desired. Sometimes changes are made to the eyes of the mask in order to make it appear as though the subject were still alive…. Super unnerving. Since ancient Egypt they have served as aids to portrait sculptors, and for the last few centuries they have been kept as mementos of the dead. Read more

If a wife talked too much during the Middle Ages, you were often forced to wear metal torture devices on their face to serve as punishment by their husbands

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Apparently being a chatterbox or a nag back in the Middle Ages could get you strapped into this thing, or numerous other metal torture devices meant to be worn on the face. It was known by various names such as scold's bridle, a witch's bridle, a brank's bridle, or simply branks. Either way, it was an instrument of punishment, used as a form of torture and public humiliation. The devices had iron framework, screws, and sometimes a muzzle that enclosed the head. Though these were primarily used on women, the Burgh Records of Scotland's major towns reveal that the branks were also used on men Read more

Archaeologists uncover remains of man crushed as he fled Pompeii

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(CNN)A man managed to escape the first eruptive fury of Vesuvius in A.D. 79, only to be crushed beneath a block of stone hurled by an explosive volcanic cloud, new excavations at the site suggest. Archeologists working at the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, Italy, found the man's remains almost 2,000 years after he died. Stunning pictures from the scene show a skeleton pinned beneath the stone. The impact crushed the top of the man's body. His head might still be buried beneath the block of stone. Lesions on the skeleton's tibia are signs of a bone infection that probably hampered the man's Read more