YOU WON'T BELIEVE THIS! Did You Know That Virgins Were Buried Alive For Breaking Their Vows
Aug. 04, 2020
Immurement, not to be confused with being buried alive, involves the entombing of an individual inside of a wall or confined space.
Immurement, derived from the later “im” – in – and “murus” – wall, literally comprises the entombing of an individual inside a wall or enclosed space without means of exit. Often, but not always used as a method of execution, the prisoner is left for an indefinite period of time to suffer from starvation and dehydration whilst trapped in isolation and darkness. Appearing in civilizations around the world, two primary purposes recur as the motivations behind the practice: human sacrifice and criminal punishment. Regarding the latter, it has been claimed the Vestal Virgins of Rome faced immurement should they break their vows of chastity as a trial by ordeal to prove devotion.
More commonly appearing as a form of human sacrifice, however, many civilizations employed immurement as part of funerary rituals. Living persons, either willingly or forced as part of entombed chattel, were frequently buried alongside deceased people of status. Known to have occurred as early as 2500 BCE, with archaeological evidence in the Sumerian city of Ur depicting the practice, it was also a prominent feature of early imperial China. Transmitted to the funerary rites of the Mongol Khans during the 13th and 14th centuries, these great conquerors were reportedly buried along with more than a dozen slaves.
Immurement (from Latin im- "in" and murus "wall"; literally "walling in") is a form of imprisonment, usually until death, in which a person is placed within an enclosed space with no exits. This includes instances where people have been enclosed in extremely tight confinement, such as within a coffin. When used as a means of execution, the prisoner is simply left to die from starvation or dehydration. This form of execution is distinct from being buried alive, in which the victim typically dies of asphyxiation.
Notable examples of immurement as an established execution practice (with death from thirst or starvation as the intended aim) are attested. Women in the Roman Empire who were Vestal Virgins routinely faced immurement as punishment when they were found guilty of breaking their chastity vows. Immurement has also been well established as a punishment of robbers in Persia, even into the early 20th century. Some ambiguous evidence exists of immurement as a practice of coffin-type confinement in Mongolia.
However, isolated incidents of immurement, rather than elements of continuous traditions, are attested or alleged from numerous other parts of the world as well, and some of these notable incidents are included. Instances of immurement as an element of massacre within the context of war or revolution are also noted. Immuring living persons as a type of human sacrifice is also reported, for example, as part of grand burial ceremonies in some cultures.
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As a motif in legends and folklore, many tales of immurement exist. In the folklore, immurement is prominent as a form of capital punishment, but its use as a type of human sacrifice to make buildings sturdy has many tales attached to it as well. Skeletal remains have been, from time to time, found behind walls and in hidden rooms and on several occasions have been asserted to be evidence of such sacrificial practices or of such a form of punishment.
The Vestal Virgins in ancient Rome constituted a class of priestesses whose principal duty was to maintain the sacred fire dedicated to Vesta (goddess of the home and the family), and they lived under a strict vow of chastity and celibacy. If that vow of chastity was broken, the offending priestess would be immured alive as follows:
When condemned by the college of pontifices, she was stripped of her vittae and other badges of office, was scourged, attired like a corpse, placed in a closed litter, borne through the forum attended by her weeping kindred with all the ceremonies of a real funeral to a rising ground called the Campus Sceleratus. This was located just within the city walls, gate. A small vault underground had been previously prepared, containing a couch, a lamp, and a table with a little food. The pontifex maximus, having lifted up his hands to heaven and uttered a secret prayer, opened the litter, led forth the culprit, and placed her on the steps of the ladder which gave access to the subterranean cell.
He delivered her over to the common executioner and his assistants, who led her down, drew up the ladder, and having filled the pit with earth until the surface was level with the surrounding ground, left her to perish deprived of all the tributes of respect usually paid to the spirits of the departed.
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