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From unreliable hair analysis to mishandled DNA samples, modern forensic science has seen its share of troubles. But there’s still plenty to be thankful for in the ways courts today gather evidence of a crime: Just a few centuries ago, people were convicted of murder based on the idea that a corpse would spontaneously bleed in its killer’s presence.

From at least the 1100s to the early 1800s, men and women were judged in courts across Europe and colonial America based on a test called cruentation, or the ordeal of the bier, named for the type of wagon that carried a corpse or coffin.

In such testimony, oozing knife wounds and gushes of blood from the noses and eyes of the deceased were considered proof positive of guilt.

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