Over at the NYT, Rob Nordlund chillingly reports on the execution by stoning of a young couple in Afghanistan who had fallen in love and eloped. The details are disgusting:
Mr. Khan said that as a Taliban mullah prepared to read the judgment of a religious court, the lovers, a 25-year-old man named Khayyam and a 19-year-old woman named Siddiqa, defiantly confessed in public to their relationship. “They said, ‘We love each other no matter what happens,’ ” Mr. Khan said.
After the Taliban proclaimed the sentence, Siddiqa, dressed in the head-to-toe Afghan burqa, and Khayyam, who had a wife and two young children, were encircled by the male-only crowd in the bazaar. Taliban activists began stoning them first, then villagers joined in until they killed first Siddiqa and then Khayyam, Mr. Khan said. No women were allowed to attend, he said.
Mr. Khan estimated that about 200 villagers participated in the executions, including Khayyam’s father and brother, and Siddiqa’s brother, as well as other relatives, with a larger crowd of onlookers who did not take part.
“People were very happy seeing this,” Mr. Khan maintained, saying the crowd was festive and cheered during the stoning. The couple, he said, “did a bad thing.”
These executions were obviously slow, brutal, and bloody. Yet the people were “happy — the crowd was festive and cheering.”
I don’t even know what to say about this, so I’ll approach the issue from the perspective of archaeology in an effort to clear the disturbing picture from my mind.
I am not aware of any Paleolithic skeletal remains which indicate that the individual suffered a traumatic death by stoning. Such remains might display any number of features, including broken ribs and perhaps even some long bones. The hand bones and forearms would probably be broken because they would be raised in an effort to deflect the stones being thrown. The skull would be the giveaway — the facial bones would be crushed and the braincase shattered.
Given the lack of such remains, one might conclude that our “primitive and uncivilized” Paleolithic ancestors did not practice any form of religion which mandated death by stoning for committing social crimes of passion or love.