18 Examples of Crime and Punishment in the Ancient Persian Empire
18 Examples of Crime and Punishment in the Ancient Persian Empire

18 Examples of Crime and Punishment in the Ancient Persian Empire

Larry Holzwarth - December 24, 2018

18 Examples of Crime and Punishment in the Ancient Persian Empire
In the Christmas myth, the visit of the Magi – one of whom was Persian – led to Herod ordering the slaughter of Jewish boys younger than the age of two. Wikimedia

18. The Persians were no worse than the rest of the ancient world

Although the methods of execution ascribed to the Persians are gruesome and in some cases nearly unbelievably so, in their ingenuity dedicated to inflicting maximum suffering they are in no way unique. The ancient Greeks, though they did not record their tortures, nonetheless practiced violence, though most often against fellow Greeks. The bible is filled with stories of whole cities destroyed, their populations put to the sword, their leaders killed in various ways. The New Testament contains the story of King Herod ordering the killing of all male Jewish infants under the age of two. The ancient world was a brutal one.

The Romans used crucifixion, beheading, stoning, people torn apart by wild animals before a cheering audience, drowning, and many other means of applying judicial punishment on the people foolish enough to get on the wrong side of the law. In colonial America, the Spanish and English settlers encountered ritual torture and cannibalism among the natives. The English settlers used whipping and pressing to death with heavy stones as two means of enforcing the law. The barbarous practices of the Persians, those that are true and those which are the creations of fertile but prejudiced minds, are not as far removed from modern man as most would like to think.


Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“Birth of the Persian Empire: The Idea of Iran”. Curtis Sarkhosh, Sarah Stewart. 2005

“Ancient Persia”. Matt Waters. 2014

“Ancient Persian Punishments Beyond Your Worst Nightmares”. Mark Oliver. JUNE 28, 2017

“Peoples of the Ancient World: The Persians”. Maria Brosius. 2006

“Some Notes on Valerius Maximus”. John Briscoe. 1993

“The Scary Caterpillar”. Jeffrey Lockwood, The New York Times. April 18, 2009

“On the Malice of Herodotus”. Plutarch. Online

“Sasanian Persia: The Rise and Fall of an Empire”. Touraj Daryaee. 2009

Iran: Death By Stoning, A Grotesque And Unacceptable Penalty. Amnesty International. 15 January 2008

“History of Darius the Great”. Jacob Abott. 1850

“The history and pathology of crucifixion”. F.P. Retief, L. Cilliers, South African Medical Journal. December, 2003

“Persian Myths”. Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis. 1993

“Ancient Siege Warfare”. Paul Bentley Kern. 1999

“My Wanderings in Persia”. T. S. Anderson. 1880. Baha’i Library Online

“Impalement in Ancient Egypt”. Ahmad Abo, Research Gate. June, 2010. Online

“The Laws of the Ancient Persians”. Fars Times. Online

“Ctesias and the Importance of his writings revisited”. Eran Almagor, ELECTRUM, Volume 19. 2012

“Flogging”. Joseph W. Bean. 2000

“The Worst Ways to Die: Torture Practices of the Ancient World”. Matthias Schulz, Spiegel Online. May 15, 2009