What Are the Common Punishments During Ancient Times?

Throughout history, punishments have been used as a means of deterring individuals from committing crimes. Punishments during ancient times were often extreme and brutal, with many of them being inhumane. In this article, we will explore some of the common punishments that were used during ancient times.

Corporal Punishment

One of the most common forms of punishment during ancient times was corporal punishment. This form of punishment involved inflicting physical pain on the offender. The severity of the punishment varied depending on the crime committed.

  • Flogging: One of the most common forms of corporal punishment was flogging. This involved beating the offender with a whip or a rod. The number of lashes varied depending on the crime committed.
  • Branding: Another form of corporal punishment was branding.

    This involved burning a mark onto the offender’s skin to indicate that they were a criminal.

  • Mutilation: In some cases, offenders were mutilated as a form of punishment. For example, thieves would have their hands cut off.
  • Death: The most severe form of corporal punishment was death. Offenders could be executed in various ways such as by hanging, beheading, or crucifixion.

Shaming Punishment

Another form of punishment that was commonly used during ancient times was shaming punishment. This form of punishment did not involve physical pain but instead aimed to humiliate and shame the offender.

  • Pillory: The pillory was a device that held an offender’s head and hands in place while they stood in public view. This allowed members of the public to throw objects at them or verbally abuse them.
  • Stocks: The stocks were a similar device to the pillory but instead held an offender’s feet and hands in place.

    This meant that they were unable to move and were at the mercy of the public.

  • Tarring and Feathering: This punishment involved covering the offender in hot tar and then feathers. The offender would then be paraded through town as a form of humiliation.


Exile was another common form of punishment during ancient times. This involved banishing the offender from their community or country.

  • Banishment: The most common form of exile was banishment from a community. Offenders would be forced to leave their home and live elsewhere, often in isolation.
  • Transportation: In some cases, offenders would be transported to a distant colony or prison camp as a form of punishment.


In conclusion, punishments during ancient times were often extreme and brutal. Corporal punishment, shaming punishment, and exile were all common forms of punishment that aimed to deter individuals from committing crimes. While many of these punishments are no longer used today, they remain an important part of our history and serve as a reminder of how far we have come in terms of justice and human rights.