IMPORTANT:This page has used Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia in either a refactored, modified, abridged, expanded, built on or 'straight from' text content! (view authors)

This article describes the method of execution. Sawing is also a method of manufacturing.

Delinquent sawed in two (Drawing by Lucas Cranach the Elder)

Sawing was a method of torture and execution. Template:Capital punishment The condemned was hung upside down and then sawed apart down the middle, starting at the groin. Since the condemned was hanging upside-down, the brain received a continuous blood supply in spite of the severe bleeding. The condemned would remain completely conscious until the saw severed the major blood vessels of the abdomen, and sometimes even longer.

Sawing was used to execute condemned in Europe under the Roman Empire, in the Middle East as referenced in the Bible and in parts of Asia.

File:Die Saege.JPG

Delinquent sawed in two while other condemned watch (Mediaeval drawing)

Sawing In Medieval China

The method of sawing in half in medieval China was decidedly different from the method described above. Sawing upside-down would cause the victim to swing back and forth with the moves of the saw. Such movement of the victim would make the process of sawing extremely difficult. The Chinese avoided this difficulty by securing the victim in a standing position between two boards firmly fixed between stakes driven deep into the ground. Two executioners, one at each end of the saw, would then saw downwards starting at the top of the boards, cleaving them and the enclosed victim into two halves.[1]

Sawing In Ancient Rome

Throughout the time of the Roman Empire, sawing in half was a rare method of execution. However, it was used extensively during the reign of the Emperor Caligula.[2] Those condemned to be sawn in half during Caligula's reign (including members of his own family) would be executed by being sawn across the middle as opposed to lengthways down the body. It is said that Caligula would watch people sawn in half while he ate, stating that witnessing their sufferings acted as an appetiser.[3]


  1. G. Abbott, "Execution: A Guide To The Ultimate Penalty", (Summersdale Publishers Ltd, 2005)
  2. e.g. Suet. Calig. 27: multos [...] medios serra dissecuit - "He cut many people [...] in two with a saw"
  3. G. R. Scott, "A History Of Torture", (Bracken Books, 1994) p.142

de:Zersägen es:Sierra (instrumento de tortura) fr:Sciage ka:გახერხვა nl:Klieven (doodstraf) no:Saging pt:Serração fi:Sahaaminen (teloitusmenetelmä) sv:Sågning (avrättningsmetod) tl:Paglagari

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.