Impalement was also used during wartime to suppress rebellion, punish traitors or collaborators, and as a punishment for breaches of military discipline.Offenses where impalement was occasionally employed include: contempt for the state's responsibility for safe roads and trade routes by committing highway robbery or grave robbery, violating state policies or monopolies, or subverting standards for trade.Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, travelling on botanical research in the Levant 1700–1702, observed both ordinary longitudinal impalement, but also a method called "gaunching", in which the condemned is hoisted up by means of a rope over a bed of sharp metal hooks.He is then released, and depending on how the hooks enter his body, he may survive in impaled condition for a few days. A large iron hook was fixed on the horizontal cross-bar of the gallows and the individual was forced upon this hook, piercing him from the abdomen through his back, so that he hung from it, hands, feet and head downward.Offenders have also been impaled for a variety of cultural, sexual and religious reasons.References to impalement in Babylonia and the Neo-Assyrian Empire are found as early as the 18th century BC.Taken captive in 1596, the barber-surgeon William Davies relates something of the heights involved when thrown upon hooks (although it is somewhat unclear if this relates specifically to the city of Algiers, or elsewhere in the Barbary States): "Their ganshing is after this manner: he sitteth upon a wall, being five fathoms high, within two fathoms of the top of the wall; right under the place where he sits, is a strong iron hook fastened, being very sharp; then he is thrust off the wall upon this hook, with some part of his body, and there he hangeth, sometimes two or three days, before he dieth." Davies adds that "these deaths are very seldom", but that he had personally witnessed it.A slightly variant way of executing people by means of impalement was to force an iron meat hook beneath a person's ribs and hang him up to die slowly.
Before that time, gaunching as described by de Tournefort was in use.He then placed, and held vertically, a wooden stave at her heart to mark its location, while his assistants piled earth on the woman, keeping her head free of earth at the behest of the clerics, however, as to do otherwise would have quickened the death process.Once the earth had been piled upon her, the executioner grabbed with a pair of tongs a rod made of iron, which had been made red hot.Impalement, as a method of execution and also torture, is the penetration of a human by an object such as a stake, pole, spear, or hook, often by complete or partial perforation of the torso.
It was used particularly in response to "crimes against the state" and regarded across a number of cultures as a very harsh form of capital punishment and recorded in myth and art.From the royal archives of the city of Mari (at the Syrian-Iraqi border by the western bank of Euphrates), most of it also roughly contemporary to Hammurabi, it is known that soldiers taken captive in war were on occasion impaled.