Scientists have found traces of ancient Chinese punishment. Woman's leg cut off for misdemeanor

Scientists have conducted a new study of the skeleton of an ancient Chinese woman. During the work, scientists suggested that almost 3,000

years ago, a woman's leg was cut off.Judging by the marks on the bones, the amputation was carried out not for health reasons, but as a punishment for committing a crime. This is one of the few cases where archaeologists have found traces of yue. This is an ancient Chinese punishment in which a person's foot was cut off.

Scientists suggest that the woman was deprived of partfeet within the yue because her bones show no signs of any disease that would make such an amputation necessary, other than the fact that the foot was cut off roughly and not with the precision of a medical amputation. The lead author of the study, Li Nan, an archaeologist at Peking University in China, said the woman was not injured in an accident or war wound.

Historical writings and art testify to punishment
Yue in ancient China, including these bronzes from the first millennium BC.
Image courtesy of Li Nan et al./Acta Anthropologica Sinica

According to a 2019 study published byin Tsinghua China Law Review, Yue punishment was common in ancient China for over 1,000 years until it was noted in the 2nd century BC. While the woman was alive, up to 500 different offenses could have led to a leg amputation, including rioting, cheating, stealing, and even climbing over a gate, Li said.

But nothing in the woman's skeleton indicates what she was punished for: "We have no idea what crime she committed," the scientists conclude.

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