According to the Daily Mail, archaeologists in Britain have discovered what they describe as the “world’s best example of crucifixion.”
Though the Bible and other historical documents talk about the Romans using crucifixion as a brutal form of execution, there have been few physical examples of it found because the metal nails used to crucify a person were not only extremely valuable, they were often considered magical and usually removed from the body after death.
Crucifixion was a popular method of execution used by the Romans, because it often extended the torture for days.
The body, discovered in 2017 in a grave at the village of Fenstanton, is dated to 130-337 AD, during the Roman occupation of Britain.
The archaeologists examining the remains found a nail hammered into the man’s heel bone, thought to be 25 to 35 years of age at the time of his execution.
There were also indications that the man had probably been tortured and shackled prior to his crucifixion, suggesting that he might have been a slave.
Though historical paintings often portray the crucifixion of Christ as having nails hammered in His feet, this find, along with a similar discovery in Israel in 1968, reveal that the person’s feet were twisted sideways and nailed to the cross through the heel bone.
As well, the paintings often portray the nails being hammered into Christ’s hands. Since the nails would have eventually ripped through, it is suspected that the nail was inserted in the wrist area, which at that time was considered as part of the hand.
In other instances, the Romans would simply tie a person’s arms to the top cross-beam, because death came as a result of asphyxiation that was caused by the person hanging from their arms, which constricted their breathing.
To gain a breath, the individual would be forced to painfully push up with their feet that were hammered into the cross.
Death came when they were finally too weak to continue doing this.
During Christ’s crucifixion, the Jewish priests requested that the legs of Christ, and the two men crucified with Him, be broken to hasten their death. This would allow their bodies to be taken down before the start of the Passover Sabbath.
The Roman guards broke the legs of the two men crucified with Christ, but did not break the legs of Jesus, because the Lord was already dead (John 19:31-33).
If the Romans were in a particularly brutal mood and wanted to extend the punishment, they would provide a seat on the cross for the person to rest on.
Evidence also indicates that olive trees were often used to hold the crucified person. Though paintings typically portray people looking up at Jesus on the cross, if the smaller Olive tree was used, the person being crucified would have been closer to eye level.
Since, the Romans reserved crucifixion for more serious crimes, like rebellion, the Jews accused the Lord of being King of the Jews, insinuating that Christ was leading a rebellion against the Roman government.
Pilate knew this wasn’t the case (Luke 23:1-5), but ordered a sign be attached to the cross stating that Christ was King of the Jews, probably to spite the Jewish priests.
19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” (John 19:19-20 NIV)
READ: First evidence of a crucifixion in the UK is uncovered in CAMBRIDGESHIRE: Roman slave who lived up to 1,900 years ago is found buried with a 2 inch nail driven through his heel in world’s ‘best example’ of the capital punishment