When a Persian judge named Sisamnes was caught accepting a bribe, King Darius was determined to make an example out of him. The courts of Persia, Darius believed, should be impartial and fair.
He was going to be sure that Sisamnes’s replacement didn’t make the same mistake.Sisamnes was killed, but that was just the start.
After his throat had been slit, Darius had the executioners flay off every inch of his skin and make them into strips of human leather. Then he had them sew together a chair made of Sisamnes’s skin.
From then on, the new judge would have to sit on a chair made of human flesh.
It gets worse: Sisamnes’s replacement was his own son. As he presided over Persia’s trials, he would have to spend every day sitting on a chair made of his father’s flesh.
Now, King Darius believed, they would have a judge who would never forget what happened if he accepted a bribe.
9 Drowning In A Pool Of Ashes
One of the worst deaths you could suffer in ancient Persia was suffocation by ashes. It was a punishment reserved for the worst criminals: those guilty of high treason or offenses against the gods. And it was horrifying.
The Persians kept a 23-meter-tall (75 ft) hollow tower that was filled with nothing but ashes and wheels. At the top was a sliding platform, and the criminal would be taken to it and thrown in.
He would plummet down into the center of the tower. The fall would likely break a few bones, but the ashes would keep him alive long enough to suffer the slower, more brutal death they had planned.
The executioners would turn the wheels. Men outside would put them into motion, swirling the ashes around to force them into the convict’s nose and mouth. He would inhale them, suffocating on burned ashes until he died.
It’s a sentence more than a few people faced, and it even shows up in the Bible. In it, a corrupt Jewish priest is killed by the Persians in the tower of ashes.
When he dies, his family isn’t allowed to bury his remains. “And that,” the Bible says to conclude the story, “was just what he deserved.”