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That Is ‘Yue’ For Us!

Archaeologists recently revealed many information about ancient China after analysing a 3,000-year-old female skeleton. They have come to know that the Chinese rulers used to punish criminals in a cruel and brutal manner in ancient times. According to an article published in an anthropology journal in the last week of May 2022, one leg of that woman was amputated before her demise. Archaeologists have also revealed that the concerned authorities had punished the lady for allegedly committing a crime, and this sort of ancient Chinese punishment was popularly known as Yue.

Archaeologists are of the opinion that the woman was convicted of committing some sort of crime, and had her leg amputated. They have confirmed that the lady was not suffering from diseases, pertaining to her bones. Most importantly, no medical instruments were used while amputating her leg. In other words, it was done in a crude and brutal manner. Li Nan, an Archaeologist at Peking University, has said that the researchers came to the conclusion after considering all other possibilities for how the woman might have lost her foot… due to an accident, a war injury or a surgical procedure. “After careful observation and media discussions, our research team ruled out other possibilities and agreed that punitive amputation is the best interpretation,” she stressed. Li added: “The cutting surface of her right tibia was not smooth and marked malunion (a badly-healed fracture) was observed. A surgical amputation could do much better at that time.

Li, the Lead Researcher, has explained that the Yue punishment was common in ancient China for more than 1,000 years. It was abolished in the 2nd Century BC by Han Dynasty Emperor Wen. Emperor Wen had replaced them with a system of fines, floggings, hard labour and exile. He used to execute only the worst criminals. During the lifetime of this woman, nearly 500 different offences, such as rebelling, cheating, stealing and climbing over certain gates, could result in having a foot amputated. However, scientists are yet to confirm the crime committed by this lady.

Punishments in ancient China were painful, as well as brutal, in a true sense. Historians claimed that emperors of the Xia Dynasty, the first dynasty of ancient China, had introduced Yue and four other punishments for slaves in the 2nd Millennium BC. As per an article published in Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law in 1975, minor crimes were punished with beatings in ancient China, while people, who committed severe crimes, were sentenced to one of the five punishments. The first one was Mo, where the face or forehead of an offender was tattooed in indelible ink. The second one was called Yi, in which the nose of the offender was cut off. As far as the third punishment Yue is concerned, the amputation of the feet was awarded by the king. Some of the worst offenders had both of their feet amputated. The fourth punishment was Gōng, which was basically a brutally complete castration. The fifth and final one was Da Pi, a death sentence that could be carried out by beheading or by being boiled alive and or by being torn limb from limb (by horses).

According to Li, the researchers first discovered the female skeleton in north-western part of China in 1999. Although they initially failed to make much revelation, latest research has helped researchers come out with more information about ancient China. Li stressed that the healthy woman was 30-35 years old at the time when she was punished, and she was alive without a leg for around another five years.

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