Nearly 3,000 years ago, a Chinese woman’s foot was amputated – possibly not because of a medical condition, but as punishment for committing a crime, a new study of her bones shows. It was one of the few times that archaeologists discovered evidence of yueAn ancient Chinese punishment.
Various clues suggest that the woman’s foot was severed like yue: her bones showed no signs of any disease that would have required such amputation; and it looks like the wound was created roughly, rather than with the precision of a medical amputation.
Lead author of the study Li Nan, an archaeologist at Peking University in China, told Live Science, the researchers looked at other possibilities that the woman might have lost her leg, such as such as by accident, war trauma, or surgery. But “after careful observation and discussion in the media, our research team ruled out other possibilities and agreed that punitive amputation is the best explanation,” she told Live Science in an email.
The yue Punishment was common in ancient China for more than 1,000 years, until it was abolished in the second century BC, according to a 2019 study in Tsinghua Law Review of China. Li said by the time the woman was alive, there were as many as 500 different offenses that could have resulted in the amputation, including sedition, fraud, stealing and even climbing through certain gates. .
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But nothing about the woman’s skeleton indicates what crime she was punished for: “We don’t know what crime she committed,” she said.
According to historians, yue is one of the “five punishments for slavery” enforced since the second millennium BC by the emperors of the Xia Dynasty, the first dynasty of ancient China.
There is plenty of historical evidence for this, and a Chinese official in the first millennium BC complained about the need to find special shoes for amputees.
Misdemeanors are beaten, but serious offenders can be punished with one of five penalties: mo, where the face or forehead is tattooed with indelible ink; yiin which the prisoner’s nose has been removed; yue, have their feet amputated (some of the worst offenders have had both feet amputated); and gōnga completely brutal castration.
Thursday is skin pia death sentence can be carried out by beheading, if you’re lucky – alternatives include boiling them raw and having their limbs ripped off by a horse, according to a 1975 study in Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law.
Chinese tradition records that the five penalties were in effect until they were abolished by Emperor Wen of the Han dynasty in the second century BC, who replaced them with a system of fines, hitting beatings, hard labor and exile; The worst criminals were simply executed.
Li said the woman’s skeleton was found in a tomb at the Zhouyuan site in northwest China’s Shaanxi province in 1999. The grave dates from 2,800 to 3,000 years ago, when Zhouyuan was the city. the largest and most important of the region.
At first, the skeleton’s missing foot went largely unnoticed, but the new autopsy reveals more about the woman’s life, Li said.
An anatomical analysis revealed that the woman was between 30 and 35 years old when she died, and – aside from her missing foot – was in excellent health. She did not appear to be ill after the amputation, which suggests that she was well taken care of; and the growth of the remaining leg bones suggest that the woman lived for about 5 more years before dying.
Li said only some bullet casings were found in her grave, which may indicate she lived in poverty and may have been buried by family members.
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The woman’s bones show no signs of any disease that might necessitate amputation of the foot, such as Diabetesleprosy or cancer; and there was no evidence of frostbite or burns.
Other than that, there seems to be little good explanation for how it can happen by accident. “If she was attacked or fell from a height, it wouldn’t make any sense if she just lost her right foot without other injuries,” Li said.
An important clue is that the amputation appears to be the result of a careless or possibly futile action – which is visible in the remaining bone, including what is left of the tibia, or shin bone.
“The cut surface of her right tibia is uneven and irregular [a badly-healed fracture] Li said.
Zhouyuan limb amputation is the earliest evidence of yue has not been found. But researchers have reported that they have seen mutilated skeletons with similar injuries in ancient tombs and it is possible that older examples will be identified, Li said: “It’s not a matter of must be found, but determined.”
The study was published earlier this month in the journal Acta Anthropologica Sinica.
Originally published on Live Science.
https://www.livescience.com/ancient-china-woman-foot-amputation Ancient Chinese woman faced brutal ‘yue’ punishment, had foot cut off, skeleton reveals