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Ancient Chinese woman faced brutal 'yue' punishment, had foot cut off, skeleton reveals


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Nearly 3,000 years ago, the foot of a Chinese woman was cut off in an amputation — probably not for a medical condition, but as punishment for committing a criminal act, a new study of her bones suggests. It's one of the few times archaeologists have discovered evidence of yue, an ancient Chinese punishment.  Various clues hint that the woman's foot was cut off as yue: her bones show no signs of any disease that could have made such an amputation necessary; and it seems the injury was roughly made, rather than with the precision of a medical amputation.

The researchers considered other possibilities for how the woman might have lost her foot, such as from an accident, a war injury or a surgical procedure, study lead author Li Nan, an archaeologist at Peking University in China, told Live Science. But "after careful observation and media discussions, our research team ruled out other possibilities and agreed that punitive amputation is the best interpretation," she told Live Science in an email. The yue punishment was common in ancient China for over 1,000 years, until it was abolished in the second century B.C., according to a 2019 study in the Tsinghua China Law Review. At the time the woman was living, up to 500 different offenses could result in having a foot amputated, including rebelling, cheating, stealing and even climbing over certain gates, Li said.

https://www.livescience.com/ancient-china-woman-foot-amputation

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