Up until recently only one archeological case physically proved the methodology of how Jesus Christ was killed. However, a recent, rare archeological discovery in Italy adds further credence to just how cruel the Romans were and just how Jesus Christ was killed.

In April of 2018, a study was published in the Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences Journal, titled; “A multidisciplinary study of calcaneal trauma in Roman Italy: a possible case of crucifixion?” The study is based on analysis of a skeleton that was uncovered in 2007 in an isolated tomb.

“In the specific case, despite the poorly preserved conditions, we could demonstrate the presence of signs on the skeleton that indicate a violence similar to crucifixion,” co-author Emanuela Gualdi from the University of Ferrara told the Italian-language paper Estense.

“The importance of the discovery lies in the fact that it is the second case documented in the world,” co-author Ursula Thun Hohenstein told Estense.

“Although this brutal type of execution has been perfected and practiced for a long time by the Romans, the difficulties in preserving damaged bones and, subsequently, in interpreting traumas, hinder the recognition of crucifixion victims, making this testimony even more precious,” Thun Hohenstein said.

Before this particular case, the only archeological evidence on record came from a 1968 Jerusalem excavation. The 1968 discovery was conducted in the Giv’at HaMivtar neighborhood. Vassilios Tzaferis excavated tombs from a large Second Temple Jewish cemetery (2nd century BCE to 70 CE).

The 1968 discovery shed light on the reality that is crucifixion; the archeologists discovered on the heel bone of the older unidentified male, a seven-inch nail, upon which was found some one-two centimeters of olive wood, which was determined to be remnants of the cross from which he was hung.

Incredibly, the new remains showcase similar evidence. However, the newly analyzed Italian remains, of the thirty to thirty-four-year-old crucified male, are complicated to interpret due to poor preservation of the bone surfaces.

Regardless of the poor condition of the bones, researchers noticed peculiar lesions on the right heel.

“To better understand the trauma, we analyzed this bone in detail to determine the time of occurrence and to give an interpretation,” they wrote. The interdisciplinary team decided to use anthropological and genetic methods to create a “biological profile of the individual.”

Through their research, they believe that they were able to more deeply understand the “social role of the victim and the violence pattern in past populations.” Furthermore, “The results provided evidence of a possible brutal mode of death,” they continued.

Through their analyzation, evidence of a potential crucifixion is available only on the right heel. The researchers wrote that they observed a lesion that passed through the “entire width” of the heel bone, penetrating under the horizontal shelf-like portion in the mid-back section of the heel.

Furthermore, “The perforation (length 24 mm) shows a regular round hole passing from the medial side (diameter 9 mm) to the lateral one (diameter 6.5 mm). The pattern of the cross-sectional lesion is linear in the first part, turning slightly downward in the last part,” the researchers continued.

“The presence of an ellipsoidal depressed fracture on the medial side, but not on the lateral, suggests that the injury was inflicted perimortem and the blow was inflicted from medial to lateral, causing a breakthrough in the impact area (entry point),” they concluded.

In general terms, the researchers are saying that the heel of the male was probably nailed to a hard surface, such as wood, before death.

Works Cited

Gualdi, Emanuela & Thun Hohenstein, Ursula & Onisto, Nicoletta & Pilli, Elena & Caramelli, David. (2018). A multidisciplinary study of calcaneal trauma in Roman Italy: a possible case of crucifixion?. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. 10.1007/s12520-018-0631-9.

AMANDA BORSCHEL-DAN. “How Jesus died: Extremely rare evidence of Roman crucifixion uncovered in Italy.” The Times of Israel. . (2018): . .

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