The Only Skeletal Evidence For Crucifixion In The Ancient World

“The Romans practiced crucifixion – literally, “fixed to a cross” – for nearly a millennium. It was a public, painful, and slow form of execution, and used as a way to deter future crimes and humiliate the dying person. Since it was done to thousands of people and involved nails, you’d probably assume we have skeletal evidence of crucifixion.  But there’s only one, single bony example of Roman crucifixion, and even that is still heavily debated by experts.”

Thus writes Kristina Killgrove in a great little article for Forbes exploring the evidence for the gruesome but significant practice of crucifixion in the Roman world. In particular, she presents the only scientifically attested historical artefact of crucifixion: the heel bone of first century Jewish man, Yehohanan ben Hagkol, with nail still intact.

You can find the whole article at:

This One Bone Is The Only Skeletal Evidence For Crucifixion In The Ancient World – Forbes.


5 thoughts on “The Only Skeletal Evidence For Crucifixion In The Ancient World

    • There’s no denying the reality of crucifixion. There’s such strong attestation to it in written sources, that it’s undeniable. The article is highlighting how surprising it is that there is such a lack of physical evidence given the ubiquity of crucifixion in the Roman world.

    • No, the nail was driven through a small piece of wood, then into the heel, and then into the upright of the cross. The small piece of wood acted as a a rivet that kept the heel and nail in place, preventing the heel sliding off the nail and coming free. It’s discussed in the article.

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