This One Bone Is 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.
Crucifixion seems to have originated in Persia, but the Romans created the practice as we think of it today, employing either a crux immissa (similar to the Christian cross) or a crux commissa (a T-shaped cross) made up of an upright post and a crossbar. Generally, the upright post was erected first, and the victim was tied or nailed to the crossbar and then hoisted up. There was usually an inscription nailed above the victim, noting his particular crime, and sometimes victims got a wooden support to sit or stand on. But Seneca, the Roman philosopher, wrote in 40 AD that the process of crucifying someone varied greatly: Read more.