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"Then she [Judith] struck his [Holofernes] neck twice with all her might, and cut off his head." --Book of Judith

Salome, c. 1530 - Cranach
Salome, c. 1530 - Cranach
Image:Horrors of war by Goya.jpg
Disasters of War (1810s) by Francisco de Goya
With the early 19th century Disasters of War, Goya continued a tradition set in motion by French 17th artist Jacques Callot with his The Miseries and Disasters of War, both of them criticizing the horrors of war in their art

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Decapitation (from Latin, caput, capitis, meaning head), or beheading, is the removal of a living organism's head. Beheading typically refers to the act of intentional decapitation, e.g., as a means of murder or execution; it may be accomplished, for example, with an axe, sword, or knife, or by means of a guillotine. Accidental decapitation can be the result of an explosion, automobile or industrial accident, improperly-administered execution by hanging or other violent injury. Suicide by decapitation is rare, but not unknown. In 2003 a British man killed himself by means of a home-made guillotine, constructed over a period of several weeks. Decapitation is always fatal, as brain death occurs within seconds to minutes without the support of the organism's body. There is no way to provide life support for a severed head with current medical techniques.

The word decapitation can also refer, on occasion, to the removal of the head from a body that is already dead. This might be done to take the head as a trophy, for public display, to make the deceased more difficult to identify, or for other reasons.

In an analogous fashion, decapitation can also refer to the removal of the head of an organization. If, for example, the leader of a country were killed, that might be referred to as 'decapitation'.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Decapitation" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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