Saturday, June 19, 2010

Crucifixion – The Bodily Support - Part 4 - Physics of Crucifixion.

Part 3

UPDATE JANUARY 17, 2010: What I have found out since posting these four parts will require a major rewrite. Parts 2, 3 and 4 will be broken up. Videos showing where Christianity got The Crucifixion FROM will be presented. The series will rerun under a new title, "The Romans NEVER CRUCIFIED the Way We Think They Did."


Was Jesus Crucified in the Manner Shown in Art and on Film?
Crucifixion in Antiquity
Dr. Zugibe's Findings "The Last Temptation of Jean-Claude Van Damme" "Cobra"
Media Fax Photo via the Google Group "Male Cross Research."
Son of


In modern-day reenactments, how do movie directors keep the actor's midsection from flaring out like an archery bow when he is portrayed crucified? That has actually happened in the production of films and in safe, sane crucifixion experiments.

Experiments by Others.

Photo Credit: Crucifixion

The above photo demonstrates the problems with crucifying someone in the traditional manner on a conventional Christian Cross.

Frederick T. Zugibe, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Medical Examiner in Rockland County, N.Y. and Adjunct Associate Professor of Pathology Columbia University College of Physician’s and Surgeons, N.Y. crucified both fresh cadavers or body parts and live students (safely and sanely, of course) to test and study the practice of crucifixion. He proved with cadavers that if a man was nailed to the front of a cross in his palms and the top of his feet, the nail ripped through the skin with only about 45 pounds of pressure. One crucified in this manner could pull free of the cross solely from his own body weight, because a nail driven through the palm or the fleshy part of the foot is in unsupported flesh that can be torn. But remember a living man would use gravity plus his own strength to pull loose. People who are physically fit can easily pull themselves free. On the other hand, if one nails a person in one of two places in the wrist or a place in the forearm just behind the wrist instead of the palm, and in the ankles instead of the tops of the feet, however, he is better secured. Plus, use of wooden washers as was the case with Jehohanan, would even more firmly secure the condemned criminal to his cross. This, however, still leaves two problems. 1) How do you stop a person nailed to the front of a cross from swaying dramatically forward, and 2), what happens if the nails let go or the executioners had no washers?

Based on archaeological and experimental evidence alone, the traditionalists, artists, movie producers and directors who show Jesus nailed to the front of the cross couldn’t be more completely wrong. The traditional crucifixion pose is just impossible. A man nailed to the front of a cross in that manner can easily use his body weight and his muscle strength to pull himself free. And there is more evidence discovered in the laboratory that show any person nailed to a cross couldn’t have been nailed to its front (or maybe even its sides), at least without securing him to the stipes at his midsection. Dr. Zugibe (pictured above in his lab) found that his students who were safely and sanely crucified with straps in the traditional manner began having serious difficulties almost immediately. When they flexed forward, their chests, shoulders, and arms began to cramp in ten to twenty minutes. Only his strongest student was able to being suspended in this manner for forty-five minutes. Death would arrive rapidly to those crucified like this, unless they managed to free themselves first.

Summation of the laboratory experiments:
1. The angle of the arms with the upright varied between individuals at a broad angle ranging between 60 and 70 degrees from vertical.

2. The volunteers were suspended for periods ranging from 5 to 45 minutes determined by when they wished to come down. The main reason was almost always the pain or cramping in the shoulders, arms and hands.

3. A common complaint from the volunteers was a feeling of chest rigidity and leg cramps between 10 and 20 minutes into suspension. When this occurred, they were allowed to straighten their legs or come down.

4. There was no visual evidence of breathing difficulties throughout the suspension. Every volunteer affirmed that they had absolutely no trouble breathing either during inspiration or expiration. This was true even if the volunteers’ feet were not secured to the cross.

5. The oxygen content of the blood either increased or remained constant. Both visual observations and Douglas bag studies determined this was the result of hyperventilation with abdominal breathing beginning after 4 minutes at a rate about 4-5 times normal.

6. Sweating occurred at about 6 minutes in most volunteers, varying in amount from mild to easily noticeable.

7. Each volunteer’s heart rate increased up to 120 bpm at the end of his suspensions without arrhythmias. There were occasional rapid rates as high as 175 bpm but this rate decreased after each volunteer who experienced this got over his initial anxiety. The blood pressure increased to varying degrees but never above 160 mm systolic blood pressure in each person depending on his state of conditioning. The electrocardiogram showed muscle tremors only; it did not show any cardiac abnormalities.

8. The volunteers who were suspended without securing their feet suffered a marked increase in pain in their shoulders, arms and hands, requiring the team to support the feet or take down the volunteers.

9. The backs of the volunteers never touched the cross except for slight contact in the shoulder region of some volunteers. Pain in the shoulders caused many of them to arch their bodies back in order to relieve some of the pain.

My Own Small-scale Experiments.

To figure if horizontal restraint was still necessary even when vertical support was provided, I decided to conduct some small scale experiments of my own, using common items around the house or available at the lumber yard and sporting goods store.

What I used to mimic traditional crucifixion:

- 4” x 4” lumber, 32” in length.
- A Victorian claw-foot bathtub (this won’t work with a standard built-in tub).
- A dry towel, washcloth or bathmat.
- Pieces of plywood or planks to level.
- Carpenter’s level to check levelness.
- A twenty-pound weight.

I placed 4” x 4” lumber on top of the tub with the towel/cloth/mat and a piece of wood beneath the front end to level the lumber. Checked with the carpenter’s level, of course. Then I sat bare-ass naked on top of the 4” x 4” lumber, both dry and moistened, tucked my feet against the lower surface of the bathtub beneath, and planted my fists against the opposing walls at either end of the tub (upper fingers against each wall). I did this to see if I could stay in place on the lumber. To my total lack of surprise, in each instance I slid right off within minutes!

What I used to mimic Jehohanan’s crucifixion (see above):

- 4” x 4” lumber, 32” in length.
- Kitchen base cabinet at the kitchen sink.
- A 1-gallon paint can.
- A 1-gallon spackling compound bucket.
- Surveyor’s stakes and pieces of plywood or planks to level.
- Carpenter’s level to check levelness.

I placed the spackling compound bucket in the back of the cabinet and the paint can in front of the cabinet on the kitchen floor. I stacked surveyor’s stakes, laid on their sides, and the necessary plywood or planks to level the 4” x 4” lumber and checked with the level. Once again, I sat bare-ass naked on top of the 4” x 4” lumber, tucked my feet against the face of the cabinet and my forearms against the inside front of the sink (this mimics being hooked over a patibulum). I leaned forward mimicking exhaustion and I slid right off in minutes, even as I kept my forearms flush with the inside of the sink. Gee, what a surprise! (Not.)

So I have reached a conclusion that the crucified person will need positive horizontal restraint at midsection as well as vertical support, in order to keep alive for more than an hour on the cross – regardless of how he was nailed there – because mere friction between the beam and the crotch I consider to be insufficient to keep the person in place, initially as well as after sweat and blood collect in that area. So long as you have the restraint and support at midsection and the arms aren’t raised too high, the executioners could nail the condemned in any upright position on the cross and have him suffer there for days! Without the support and restraint, in my opinion the crucified will flex forward and death will arrive quickly.

Reenactments in Film and Art.

The film, The Gospel of John. The producer and director, cast and crew, discovered accidentally in the making of the movie that without support and restraint at midsection, the actors who were “crucified” flexed way out like an archery bow, away from the cross. They must have been shocked when the Jesus character bowed outward. They filmed the Jesus character like that in the first shot, and retained it in the film.

It is possible to maintain the position of one’s back and buttocks touching the face of the cross by having your crucified one stand with all of his weight on a foot support. Otherwise, it will be necessary to install a harness hidden beneath his loin cloth and strap his buttocks to the post, which they did in this film. So in subsequent shots, the actor playing Jesus was strapped to his cross to correct the problem. The crew very likely may have secured the two actors playing the role of the malefactors in this manner as well.

Mel Gibson’s pornographically violent film, The Passion of the Christ shows a totally unrealistic portrayal of the Crucifixion. Note when they flip the cross over to turn the nails into “hooks” – note Jesus (Jim Caviezel) is hanging by the nails yet his buttocks and shoulders, before the Romans bent the nails onto the back of the patibulum, are in intimate contact with the downward facing front of the cross! This was not done by magical thinking!! Obviously, Jim had to have been secured with some kind of harness or harnesses, of which the visible parts were edited out using Photoshop or the like.

At 9:40 into this video through the end, note the impossible.

Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / United Artists

In the photo above, Jean Claude Van Damme was restrained to a cross in the movie Cyborg. Watch a clip here. The movie’s available for 15 bucks at Amazon if you care to buy it.

Photo Credit: MediaFax Photo

The 2008 Passion Play in Sydney, Australia, restraints were clearly visibly used to support Jesus and the two thieves on their crosses. Even though each man was tied around his wrists, it is apparent from the angle of his suppedaneum (foot support) that he was just barely able to stand. Without the hidden restraints, they might have slipped off – and those crosses appear to be quite tall!

Illustration Credit:

In Max Klinger’s Der Kreuzigung Christi (Crucifixion of Christ), ca. 1890, it is obvious to me that the work was produced using completely nude live models with no harm done. Despite the presence of horizontal planks for the men to sit on and rest themselves, the crosses are leaning backwards, yet the planks for the models to sit on are perpendicular to the posts! This leads me to believe that the artist found that without some kind of horizontal restraint, the models would slide off the beams. My conclusion is, by leaning the posts backwards, he used gravity to negate the need for a restraint.

Photo Credit:

The artist Fred Holland Day was tied at his midsection to a cross, as shown in his photographic portrayal of Christ's Crucifixion, ca. 1898, to keep him from flaring out once he exhausted himself. Initially, he was not tied as such.

The Japanese Solution.

The Japanese installed a yardarm and seated the crucified astride it to support the body weight at the crotch, clearly visible with the crucified male in the foreground. The female was treated with considerably more dignity. Both are tied at their torsos to the stipes as well as at their hands and feet to the crosspieces. Need I say anything more?

Part 5

Friday, June 18, 2010

Crucifixion - The Bodily Support - Part 3 - Manuscript Evidence and its Similarities to the Imagery of the Caesar Cult.

Part 2

UPDATE JANUARY 17, 2010: What I have found out since posting these four parts will require a major rewrite. Parts 2, 3 and 4 will be broken up. Videos showing where Christianity got The Crucifixion FROM will be presented. The series will rerun under a new title, "The Romans NEVER CRUCIFIED the Way We Think They Did."


Jesus was Jehovah - Papyrus Bodmer II (P66)
Wikipedia - Papyrus 66 - Papyrus 66
Jesus Was Caesar - Part III: Crux
Definition of Chiasma
Ancient Crucifixion Nails
Raving - Domus Aureus Reopens in the New Year

Photo Credit:

The Papyrus Bodmer II (Papyrus 66)

The Papyrus Bodmer II (Papyrus 66) is an interesting document. Dating to about 200 CE, it has some curious abbreviations for the various forms of the Greek noun stauros, cross or crux, and the various conjugations of the verb staurow, to crucify. Following are a few examples from page 137 of the manuscript:

Line 3 – John 19:16 – verb “to be crucified” - staurothe - abbreviated as s tau-rho the

Line 6 – John 19:18 – verb “crucified” - staurosan - abbreviated as s tau-rho san

Line 10 – John 19:19 – noun “cross” - staurou - abbreviated as s tau-rho ou

What is going on here is that copyists, as early as 200CE, have been inserting staurograms and Christograms for the letters “t,a,u” and “r” in the Greek noun stauros, the verb staurow, and all their variants. A staurogram is a pictorial representation of a human body being affixed to a Crux Immissa (Tropaeum) – Latin Cross – or a Crux Commissa – St Anthony’s Cross. Below is a diagram of the three monograms (the staurogram and two Christograms) combining the Greek letters, from left to right, Tau and Rho, Chi and Rho (the first two letters of Xristos, “Christ”), and Iota and Chi (initials for Iesous Xristos, “Jesus Christ”). I shall note here that the Greek letter Chi is also the first letter of the word xiasma, meaning a cross-piece of wood.

Diagram Credit: WCAC - Online Horizon

Now what is interesting about the staurougram on the left, is that the letters “tau” and “rho” are drawn as a UNIT. In other words, the Crucified One and his Cross once were two but by crucifixion had become one. And as we shall see in the next installment, Physics of Crucifixion, it’s not just the nails that will make the two one! It probably took the seat of the cross called the “sedile” a.k.a. “cornu,” as I have noted in the previous installments, to enable the two to unite into one.

Similarity to the Imagery of the Cult of Divus Iulius (Julius Caesar)

What’s also curious about these monograms is that the first resembles the nailing of the wax effigy of Julius Caesar on a Crux Immissa (Tropaeum) and the other two look awfully similar to the Comet Pictogram of Divus Iulius, aka the deified Julius Caesar. I presume it helped the Christians operate under the radar of the pre-Constantine Roman Empire.

Wax Effigy of Julius Caesar nailed to a Tropaeum. Note it is similar or identical to a Crux Immissa. The nails used could have been brass ones like the ones shown here.
Photo Credit: Francesco Carotta

Comparison of the Christusmonogram and the Sidus Iulium
Photo Credit: “Nero's Domus Aureus Reopens in the New Year” (Calpurnpiso)

This seems like a diversion but I believed it necessary to discuss the similarities of the Staurogram and the Christograms to see how very similar icons can develop independently one from another. I’m sure Justin Martyr would agree… it was he who said that the Pagan savior-gods and the cult of emperor worship were invented by the Devil! And there are critics who say Christianity itself is built on nothing but plagiarism!

Part 4

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Crucifixion – The Bodily Support - Part 2 - Archaeological Evidence.

Part 1

UPDATE JULY 31, 2012 - Added information and links for second gem shown. Also revised interpretation of Alexamenos Graffito (he is wearing a tunic) with an added link, made corrections and added new information to Lex Puteoli, revised interpretation of Pozzuoli graffito with an added link, added new information to Pompeiian Graffiti.

UPDATE JANUARY 17, 2010: What I have found out since posting these four parts will require a major rewrite. Parts 2, 3 and 4 will be broken up. Videos showing where Christianity got The Crucifixion FROM will be presented. The series will rerun under a new title, "The Romans NEVER CRUCIFIED the Way We Think They Did."


Crucifixion in Antiquity
Was Jesus Crucified in the Manner Shown?
Mishnah - Shabbat 6:10 - Crucifixion Nails
Crucifixion Bone Fragment - Jehohanan (article revised and reposted with New Analysis)
New Analysis of Crucifixion Bone fragment - Jehohanan (article deleted)
Crucifixion Graffito Found in Pompeii
Puzzuoli Article in Italian (Translation with help of “Google Translator.”)
Medical Theories on the Cause of Death in Crucifixion
"A Forensic Way of the Cross" Frederick T. Zugibe, M.D., Ph.D.
Regio I - Insula XIII - Domus delle Gorgoni
University of Texas - Roman Civic Images - Graffito
Flicker Photo Album - Graffito Blasphemo - excellent photos!
Jehovah's - Facts on Crucifixion
The Crucifixion Graffito of the Palatine
1st Century Crucifixion Nail Found in Archaeological Dig
Crucifixion Nails and Spikes for Sale
Crucifixion Gem with Kneeling Supplicants
Magical Amulet from Gaza Representing Jesus Christ on Cross
Jesus Was Nailed to the Cross - Jasper Gem dated 200 CE shows crucified hanging
British Museum Magical Gem / Intaglio - Click on image of Jasper Gem for large HD image.
Cambridge Journals / Harvard Theolog. Review - Crucifixion Conundrum and the Santa Sabina Doors
Excerpt from Crucifixion Conundrum and the Santa Sabina Doors
Jewish Encyclopaedia, "Ass-Worship", paragraph: Origin in the Egyptian Typhon-Worship
Clear Image of Pozzuoli Graffito (downloadable!)

Jehohanan's Crucifixion.

Despite all the people the Romans crucified, no crucified remains were found before 1968. An obviously reason is that the bodies usually were torn apart by scavengers instead of buried – but they were buried in Judea! Another reason is that the nails and whips were taken home by the superstitious locals for use as magic talismans with healing properties of some sort. The Jewish Rabbis permitted Jews to do this, even on the weekly Sabbath (The Mishnah, Shabbath 6.10). In 1968, Jewish tomb containing an ossuary (a stone box containing bones) was discovered at a construction site in Jerusalem and dated to about 21 CE. In the ossuary, archaeologists found the remains of a young Jewish man who was crucified in the 1st Century CE. As was the custom of the day, the victim’s name – Jehohanan son of Hagaqol - was scratched on the back side of the box. He was determined to be in his twenties when he was killed. His executioners apparently had some difficulty pulling out the nails that transfixed Jehohanan to his cross or stake (let's assume cross). The nail was still piercing his Calcaneum (heel bone) when his remains were found and analysed. The model of the nailed foot pictured (left photo) demonstrates the actual heel bone of Jehohanan (right photo).

The man’s feet were not nailed to the front of the cross with a single nail, because it turns out the nail was too short for that purpose. It appears his heels were nailed to the outsides of the stipes (main upright) with one nail each. He was straddling the stipes, legs spread about a foot wide, with his heels nailed to either side (see drawing above). This would likely make the genitals appear prominent. And despite the loincloth shown, it was likely Jehohanan was crucified completely naked.

As shown in the remnant and the model, the nail passed first through a square or rectangular washer, made of wood. A bit of the original washer was still present between Jehohanan’s heel and the nail head. Tests showed it was from either an acacia or pistacia tree. The wooden washer broadened the head of the nail, making it very difficult for Jehohanan to pull himself free. The heel was tightly secured between the washer and the stipes. After hammering the nail through the plaque of wood the soldier responsible hammered it through the heel bone into the stipes. Combined with the washer, the nail placement made it virtually impossible for Jehohanan to free himself. The heel bone is also a logical place in the foot to secure the nail for it can support half the full weight of the body.

When the nail penetrated the stipes, it hit a knot and turned back on itself, hooking itself into the wood. Vassilios Tsaferis, Zias, and others tested the wood that still clung to the hooked point, but found that the amount was insufficient to determine the species.

Jehohanan’s lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) were shown to be broken at a 60 to 65 degree angle. Originally Tsaferis postulated that the crucified had his legs broken the same day he was crucified to hasten death so that he could be buried before sundown per Jewish Torah Code (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). But tests have determined that they had been broken post-mortem (Hershel Shanks); that means Jehohanan died on his cross and could have been suffering on that cross for days! This means once the Romans replaced the Hasmonean Kings with their own Prefects, Roman laws probably applied to crucifixion: no burial of the crucified allowed. Even so, they still could have deferred to local custom, allowed burial after the crucified passed on, or made exceptions to the Roman laws for days like Caesar’s birthday, local high holy days and the like (John 19:31).

After Jehohanan died, the soldiers began removing the nails to take him off of the cross so his family could bury him. He may have been still crucified on the eve of a holy day, since the authorities, per request, had him taken down and permitted his relatives to bury him. But the soldiers who tried to extract the nail from his right foot, they found out it was impossible because the nail was hooked into the knot. So they yanked his foot loose, pulling the washer, nail and knot with it. Nineteen hundred years later, when the archaeologists analysed his bones, they found the whole assembly intact. They had unearthed a very important clue as to how Romans crucifiied people.

The Pompeii Graffiti.

As we all know, Mount Vesuvius blew up and buried Pompeii and Herculaneum in ash in 79 CE. A short phrase about crucifixion was found on a wall in Pompeii and perhaps other graffiti as well:
…[The] word crux has been found in Pompeii, as for example, one published in Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, Vol. IV., at No. 2082, ‘In cruce figarus.’ Professor Zangermeister says figarus stands for figaris.
Source: Edward Walford, John Charles cox and George Latimer Apperson, editors. The Antiquary, Volume 34, “The Antiquary’s Note-Book, [heading] The Crucifixion Graffito of the Palatine,” pp. 148-149

The graffito in question certainly does read "IN CRVCE FIGARVS" which translates as "may you be fixed on / by a crux. yes, "by." Not, "may you be nailed to a cross" as so many scholars interpret. It's all in the simple rules of the Latin. You see, when the preposition in is joined with the ablative, and cruce is the ablative of crux, it becomes a locational-instrumental ablative, such as in hoc signo vinces "in / by this sign you will conquer" or caput adfixum gestari iussit in pilo, "he ordered the head carried about, affixed to / by a pike". So graffito was an obscenity of the worst kind, and the sort of crucifixion wished upon the dear reader was a va te faire crucifixion, either a simple direct impalement or a crucifixion on a cross equipped with a cornu.

The Puzzuoli Graffito.

This Graffito was found in Puzzuoli, Italy. I am not sure of what time period it is dated to; the graffito was discovered in the old ampitheatre at Puzzuoli, Italy and presented by Fr. Umberto Fasola before a conference of the International Congress of Sindonology in Turin, Italy in 1978. Following is an interpretation by Gino Zaniotto:
The element of crucifixion is a crux commissa. (Tau Cross) The crucified man is attached to the patibulum, hanging by his wrists. Each foot, in opposition, is fixed with one nail. He is riding a “cornu” and is presenting a divergence of the knees. His body seems covered with animal skin likely to attract the beasts to the conclusion of the torture to make havoc of the corpse and devour what they can tear off of it.

He appears to be depicted from behind as in the “graffito blasphemo” of Palatine Hill in Rome with arms extended and hands attached to the end of the patibulum. There do not appear to be any ropes or rings. His feet are secured, probably nailed, to the stipes in opposition to each other. At a third of the way up the stipes projects a little pale, on which ‘rides’ the crucified. Its function is to support the weight of his body. It is clearly seen that the arms are outstretched; also there appears to be a circular motion of his right hand around the wound in his wrist: this is probably not random if one considers the crudeness of the design. Surrounding graffiti are in the Greek alphabet, presumably inscribed in a period after this graffito was created. The first four letters show a hand different from that which affected the subsequent letters. Because of its location along the highway to Cuma, it is considered that the taberna (backstage? canteen? tavern?) remained in operation mainly in the 1st Century CE. It is also possible that it was in the time following the opening of the Via Domitiana. The dating to the 1st Century CE is corroborated by examinations of the wall that was built in "opus reticulatum" (network of works). The simple lines of this engraving shows the dramatic description of the “servile supplicium” lacks any figurative information. We could say that the most humble of Fine Arts was responsible for sending a crucifixion, which, like pantomime, was then the latest in performing arts.

There may be references to a cult or mocking of Christian graffiti at this site as well….

Fr. Fasola believes that the graffiti depicts an individual male crucified in the Puteoli amphitheater…. [According to Fr. Fasola, it] is… of a crucified man in complete nudity. The trunk lines are strongly stretched to emphasize the ribs for the expansion of the chest. The signs of asphyxiation were given by mouth wide open as to the person who, feeling choked, is trying to breathe air. And the person who likely drew the graffiti "was to bring a strong impression in the memory of the show"
Source: Gino Zaninotto, “La Crocifissione Negli Spettacoli Latini Il Graffito Della Taberna Di Pozzuoli,” Collegamento Pro Sindone, 1987 September/October, p. 18-26 (link below).

My interpretation: This is definitely a man. Note the strong V-shape and the narrow hips. Not also that the undercarriage (genitals viewed from the back) are visible below the line of the left leg.* (Better image here.) It appears that his penis is erect, slightly above vertical, and his testicles are drawn up to the body. There is no evidence of ropes or rings anywhere. The crucifixion execution is presented from the back. The crux appears to be a crux commissa: the stipes (main post) ends at the patibulum, but there is a narrow post above it, presumably for the missing titulus.. The condemned man appears to be astride and slightly above a mockery of a seat called the “sedile.” It is crudely drawn in: it appears to resemble an uncircumcised penis, pointing out and at a slight down angle –- but with a thornlike peg (acuta crux) (cornu) (skolops) of an undisclosed length penetrating the crucified through his anus. The ancient writers, both Christian and non-Christian, would shed more light on how the “cornu” was oriented. The crucified at the very least, undoubtedly was screaming in pain from the nails and the racking effect of being suspended by his wrists with outstretched arms. His feet are shown to be nailed to the stipes and his legs appear to be very obscenely spread. His back is covered with stripes; possibly from being scourged prior to being lifted up by his nailed wrists and nailed in place through his heels.

* I have seen photos of female aquatic athletes in embarassing positions and the female undercarriage does not look like the undercarriage of the portrayed subject of this graffito, for the curvatures are opposite.

Aanother peculiar thing about this graffito is that the crucified is apparently depicted to be smiling. It is as though he was enjoying the ride -- the tagger definitely drew him in a state of arousal. If that is the depiction, this graffito is a mockery of the someone the artist knew, and was crucified. Or it is his pornographic fantasy of seeing a young male crucified. And the spectators in an ampitheatre would most certainly get a kick out of one crucified enjoying it. That’s Rome for you!

Concerning Fr. Fasola’s determination that the crucified was suffering asphyxiation, Dr. Frederick T. Zugibe had found through controlled experiments that crucified people with their hands secured so that their arms formed the presumably typical suspension angle of 60 to 70 degrees from vertical, the people had no trouble breathing and their blood oxygen remained steady or increased. At least in his lab this was true, where he used straps and special gloves in lieu of ropes and nails, so the crucified people can come down from the cross and walk away unharmed. And under the Roman Empire, those nailed to the cross reportedly survived for several hours or more typically, days. So it appears the asphyxiation hypothesis for death from Roman crucifixion, with the arms raised no more than 60 degrees from vertical, has been debunked.

Another possibility this graffito is showing is that the cornu was pointed down and the crucified was unable to either ride it, probably leading to a quick death within an hour or two through exhaustion, severe cramping and finally asphyxiation, depending upon the final position of the arms. Executions carried out and experiments conducted (including by the Nazis) have indicated that when people were suspended by their arms with their wrists at 40” apart or less, asphyxiation would rapidly occur.

The Funeral / Execution Contractor’s Posted Regulations.

The House of the Gorgons in Ostia was discovered just prior to or during the beginning of the Second World War. There have been several interpretations as to what it was, like a wealthy residence or a brothel. Further investigation revealed it to be a funeral, execution and executed body disposal contractor. One the site was posted an inscription (since lost) of the regulations that governed this type of contractor.

Other inscriptions were found in Puteoli and Cumae. They are postings of the regulations, called the “leges libitinariae,” that are applicable to this sort of enterprise. Lines 8 through 14 describes the requirement for the executing contractor for carrying out a crucifixion in the original Latin with the parts in parentheses added by the interpreter:

8. Qui supplic(ium) de ser(vo) servave privatim sumer(e) volet, uti is sumi volet ita supplic(ium) sumet, si in cruc(em)

9. patibul(atum) agere volet, redempt(or) asser(es) vincul(a) restes verberatorib(us) et verberator(es) praeber(e) d(ebeto), et

10. quisq(uis) supplic(ium) sumet pro oper(is) sing(ulis) quae patibul(um) ferunt
verberatorib(us)q(ue) item carnif(ici) HS IIII d(are) d(ebeto)

11. Quot(iens) supplic(ium) magistrat(us) public(e) sumet, ita imperat(o); quotienscumq(ue) imperat(um) er(it), praestu esse su-

12. p(p)licium sumer(e) cruces statuere clavos pecem ceram candel(as) quaeq(ue) ad eas res opus erunt red(emptor)

13. gratis praest(are) debeto; item si u(n)co extrahere iussus erit, oper(is) russat(is) id cadaver ubi plura

14. cadavera erunt cum tintinnabulo extrahere debebit.

The English translation below was provided by (Mr. or Dr.) Jan Theo Bakker at the webpage titled “Regio I – Insula XIII – Domus delle Gorgoni” (link at top). After using online translators, I made a some changes shown in italics where I thought they were more true to the Latin.

8. If someone, privately, wants to inflict punishment on a male or female slave, then the punishment must be inflicted in the way that has been asked for, so that if he wishes to drive to the crux

9. the patibulated [slave]**, the contractor must provide the beams, the fetters, the whips for the floggers, and the floggers, and

10. each person asking for inflicting punishment must pay 4 sesterces for each worker carrying the crossbeam, and for each flogger, and likewise for the executioner.

11. For each public punishment the magistrate must give the appropriate orders. Each time the orders have been given the contractor must guarantee

12. that the punishment will be inflicted, that the cruces will be erected, that there will be nails, pitch, wax, candles or wax-lights, and everything that is needed,

13. free of charge. Furthermore, if the order has been given to drag the body away with a hook, the contractor must guarantee that the corpse will be dragged

14. to the place where many corpses will be by workers clothed in red, using a signal-bell.
** The phrase "if he wishes to drive to the crux the patibulated slave" meaning if he wants to impel the slave bound to the patibulum on the way to the crux / cross. The original Latin without interpreter's marks was "SI IN CRUC PATIBUL AGERE VOLET" could be either si in crucem patibulatum agere volet as above, or si in crucem patibulo agere volet, meaning, if he wishes to drive [the slave] onto the crux from a patibulum, that is, hang him from the transverse of the cross and impale him on its acuta-crux or on a separate stake. Note the second instance of "PATIBUL" in verse 10 is interpreted as patibulum. So both interpretations are valid.

In verse 12 there is mention of using pitch, wax, and candles or wax-lights. I am of the opinion they were used for nighttime illumination and for insect control, especially at dusk, to benefit the guards. This means the guards often had to watch the crucified overnight, lest somehow he managed to extricate himself from his cross or someone removed him from it. Which means he was still alive; this strongly hints at a bodily support for the crucified.

The Graffito Blasphemo: "Alexemenos, Worship God."

This crude (and rude!) graffito was found in Rome proper on Palatine Hill. Dr. Tim Moore of the University of Texas interpreted it thusly:

Graffito depicting a crucifixion, from the Palatine Hill, Rome, first half of 3rd cent. AD. The crude graffito shows a crucifix with a donkey's head, seen from behind and dressed in a short tunic. To the left stands a man with the same clothes and his arm raised. Between the two figures is a Greek graffito: “Alexemenos sebete theon” (Alexamenos worships his god). Apparently, the author of the drawing is making fun of a Christian, Alexamenos, who is praying to a god with a donkey's head. The Y visible on the plaster, to the right, at the top, has been interpreted as a symbol of a gallows, or a transcription of a scream of pain. This is one of the oldest representations of the crucifixion.

Now I used to disagree with the object of worship described as “dressed in a short tunic”, but since then I have found better photos of this graffito. There is evidence of a shirtsleeve flap drawn on the victim's right upper arm near his shoulder. He is obviously shown naked from the buttocks down – although men appear shown in a similar state of dress/undress on Trajan’s Column (except they are wearing leather riding trousers of the same length as our capri pants) - and Romans crucified the condemned completely naked. The neckline of the tunic represented; the same lack of a neckline shows on Alexameno's tunic also. The strong horizontal line that Dr Moore interpreted as the bottom of the tunic is suspiciously at the level of the perianal region (crotch and anus). The graffito artist drew lines to represent the lines of the buttocks and shoulders, plus the knee and elbow joints! Still, the thick black line at the crucified’s crotch and anus level seems to indicate what the tagger knew was coming next... the installation of the seat of the cross, itself an acuta crux (Seneca, Epistles 101:10-12).

Here are my other observations. A suppedaneum is represented here for support of the feet. The legs are drawn spread apart. The crucified’s genitals may be portrayed, but that is just a blemish in the rock. There are lines that may appear to indicate rope bindings on the arms of the crucified person.

And the Y visible on the plaster next to the donkey's head has also been interpreted to represent the Egyptian Gnostic deity Typhon-Seth, which has been indicated on numerous defixiones (curse tablets, usually lead plates transpierced with iron nails) that have been discovered by archaeologists.

It has been noted back at the end of the 19th Century that there was at least one other cross on Palatine Hill that had been utterly obliterated by an offended Christian, who left only traces of the cross itself remaining. It may be identical with, or a separate, damaged graffito from the Crestus graffito.

Tertullian (wrote 190 – 220 CE) saw a graffito with a similar portrayal of the crucified one worshipped by Alexamenos! He notes:
"A new representation of our god has quite recently been publicized in this city, started by a certain criminal hired to dodge wild beasts in the arena. He displayed a picture with this inscription: 'Onokoites, the god of the Christians'. The figure had the ears of an ass, one foot was cloven, and it was dressed in a toga and carrying a book. We laughed at both the caption and the cartoon" (Apologeticus, 16.12-14).

A nail from the time of Christ's crucifixion which was hidden by the same knights who featured in The Da Vinci Code has been found in an archaeological dig. According to Archaeologist Bryn Walters, the iron nail is of the type used in thousands of crucifixions and dates from the 1st to 2nd Century CE. Other crucifixion nails have been the objects of collectors. A pair have recently been sold over the internet.

Crucifixion Gems.

These are two ancient Crucifixion gems showing upright posture and legs spread wide. Whoever made these gems could very well have had first-hand eyewitness knowledge of someone being crucified.

This first one was made sometime between 200 CE and 600 CE (although some claim it’s from the Middle Byzantine period). But Jesus appears to have short hair! That prejudices me toward an early date. Note the angle of the two kneeling supplicants (one looks like an Orthodox priest!) on either side of the crucified Jesus. This posture determines the vertical line of the stipes of the cross. So, I have provided a “T” to indicate the cross because the gem was produced without one yet shows him in his apparent crucified position – no loincloth, arms stretched out, erect posture, buttocks slightly forward of the cross, legs slightly spread and feet apparently nailed to the sides of the stipes, like Jehohanan’s feet were. It may have been that the creator of this gem thought the cross itself was too obscene to show.

View large HD image at the British Museum website,
by clicking on identical image there same size as this.

This second one is dated from the late 2nd Century to 3rd Century CE. Like the Alexamenos graffito, the crucified person, identified as IHCOY XRICTE (Jesus Christ [in the vocative case]), is affixed to a “T”, or an impaling stake below and a transverse beam above, with his feet about 2 feet above the low end of the upright. This means the patibulum is about 7 feet above the ground. Notice the legs are spread obscenely and painfully wide in this one: kind of like an equestrian rider, but it is meant to show, in my opinion, that the subject is undergoing a crucifixion that includes some kind of impalement: either on a stout, outrigged cornu or the upright itself. Also, the hands do not appear to be nailed to the patibulum but merely bound with ropes with the arms spread out, but relaxed. The feet seem to lack a suppedaneum. This definitely is meant to show that the victim is firmly supported by something. Otherwise, he is hanging. Also, the head of the victim is turned to the left out of shame – the person is portrayed with short hair and a beard. There are gouges in the chest on the left side and the abdomen in the middle, suggesting fatal wounds and blood flows. Curiously, there is the suggestion of an erection on the person -- no Christian would portray the crucified Jesus like that today! Yet in earlier photographs, this suggestion is retouched to make the erection obvious (example below). Besides, erect phalluses were considered apotropaic back then.

There are also names of apparent Egyptian beings that are invoked -- Badetophoth and Satraperkmephthe. So the possibility is strong that this is an occult Gnostic Christian, Jewish Christian or Pagan gem. This is in keeping with ancient Roman magical and therapeutic practice where there was a high demand for crucifixion nails and even fragments of those nails. Acts 19:13-17 is an anecdote of a Jewish Exorcist using the name of Ιησους Χριστος (early manuscripts show only the genitive IY XY of the Nomina Sacra IC XC). And Lucan's Pharsalia (Civil War) 6,538-553 speaks of a witch that harvests ropes, nails and even rancid bodily fluids from a person executed by crucifixion.

Both gems appear to be consistent with Roman crucifixion practice: don’t set the condemned so low that they exhaust themselves trying to breathe and asphyxiate within minutes once they finally hang in the down position. They also suggest the Romans supplied some sort of item that kept the condemned postures erect and crucified them in a manner (like nailing the feet through the ankles to the sides, although neither gem shows any nailing!) that kept their legs spread and their private parts exposed as their upper bodies hung down. All the more to humiliate them by making them appear “shameless.”

Part 3

Crucifixion – The Bodily Support - Part 1.

1-5-2013 Additional Information under the series, "The Romans NEVER CRUCIFIED the Way We Think They Did." Text below slightly revised.


Perseus Digital Library - Crux
Crucifixion or 'Crucifiction' in Ancient Egypt?
Laucus Curtis - Crux
Crucifixion in Antiquity
BELIEVE Religious Info Source Website - Crucifixion


The Romans figured out early on that the crucified individual needed vertical support and horizontal restraint at his midsection, as made obvious in modern-day experiments and re-enactments. So what did the Romans do? Instead of providing just a short cantilever with an upright in front of the body, which is all that is needed to provide the necessary support and restraint, they designed the sedile (seat or support) aka cornu (horn) to provide the maximum amount of excruciating pain, degradation, shame and humiliation to the victim. In other words, they designed an impaler, making the cross a kind of erect (aroused) male.

This was the item that gave Seneca cause to in writing rebuke Maecenas (who said he’d rather live at the expense of suffering, even if he had to sit on "the piercing cross," than die) and by implication to call the standard Roman Imperial method of crucifixion, a turpitude of an effeminate secular ritual.  Called a monokeros / rhinoceros horn (unicorn) by Justin Martyr, a point by Iraeneus, a projection / transgression of a seat, a rhinoceros horn, and possibly a stake and a pale by Tertullian and a tree trunk by Pope Innocent III (now how would he know?), this utterly obscene device, projecting or offset on a cantilever from the vertical post, could very well have caused the crucified’s anus to be pierced, penetrated and dilated as deep and wide as can be whenever he needed to sit and rest. Furthermore, there is no indication in either the gospels, anyplace else in the New Testament, or on the Shroud of Turin that indicates that Jesus’ reported crucifixion was anything other than the Roman Empire's standard operating procedure, unless it was some procedure that was equally tortuous and humiliating.

A Short History.

Crucifixion evolved from three different practices that used to be common all over the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The Romans started out under the old Etruscan Kings with the punishment known as “arbor infelix” by which one was suspended by the neck from a Y-shaped yoke with a bar between the arms of the yoke, or by the person’s wrists tied to the arms of the yoke, or from the fork of a dead tree, then scourged til death. The Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians all practiced some form of impalement where the condemned was impaled by a post or pole, either alive or dead. The Behistun Inscription makes it clear that Persians executed people by impaling them. The ancient Israelites had the practice of hanging someone from a tree after he was legally executed, per the Biblical passage of Deuteronomy 21:22-23. This could have been done by impalement. It was the Persians who were first known to practice crucifixion by means of nailing the condemned to a board and then suspending him, which is noted by the Historian Herodotus in the 5th Century BCE (Herodotus 9.120.4). Herodotus commonly used the verbs ἀνασκολοπίζω (anaskolopizô) and ἀνασταυρόω(anastaurow), both of which meant, before the Roman method of crucifixion evolved to its standard form, “to impale.” But when he described a punishment doled out to a Persian Satrap by a Greek general he instead used the term πρός σανίδας προσπασσαλεύσαντες ἀνεκρέμασαν (pros sanidas prospassaleusantes anekremasan), which meant “and there nailed him to boards and suspended him” (9.120.4). From the ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians or unknown others the practice spread rapidly throughout the Mediterranean, with the practice adopted by the Greeks (specifically the Macedonian Empire), the Phoenicians, and the Carthaginians. It is noted that Alexander the Great is said to have suspended 2,000 survivors of his siege of Tyre out on the beach close to the city.

It is from the Carthaginians that the Romans picked up the idea of crucifixion or impalement by means of attaching people to boards and suspending the boards. The Carthaginians were noted for their cruelty and reportedly utilized the practice only too frequently as a form of punishment. There was even a report out of Carthage that a father had his son so suspended! After Hannibal had suspended an Italian Guide for unintentionally misleading him in 217 BCE, the Romans picked up on the practice and executed some 25 slaves in the same manner. And it was the Romans who then “improved” the practice into a ritual or a secular liturgy, that is, a standard operating procedure, that involved first, public nudity, scourging and other tortures, bearing the instrument of execution or a part of it (like a crossarm) through town, nailing to the crossarm, lifting up which induced a racking by gravity, nailing to the main post, exposure to the elements and the public, and provision of a bodily support, all in order to provide the maximum amount of sustained torture in extreme pain, agony, anguish, degradation and utter public humiliation. Outside the ampitheatre where quick deaths and spectacle were popular, crucified persons typically had to suffer for two days or more; in one report (or legend) two such people, a husband and wife who were Christians, allegedly survived for nine days before they perished.

Part 2