Archaeologists Verify Details of the Crucifixion
Working in the late 1960′s and using pottery found in a Jerusalem tomb, archaeologists were able to accurately date skeletal remains which bear witness to the brutal times of the New Testament gospels, and to their accuracy. The bones were from two generations of a family which lived at about the time of Christ. They were undoubtedly wealthy, otherwise they could not have afforded such burials, but their lives were anything but easy.
Among those buried in the tomb were a man who worked on the construction of Herod’s temple, a child who died of starvation, and a woman who was “killed when struck on the head by a mace.” Also among the family’s bones were those of a young man who had been crucified by the Romans.
The clues provided by the young man’s remains provide a horrific picture of a typical Roman crucifixion. Both heel bones were pierced by a single nail, which had curled around a hard knot in the wood when it was driven in. When the curled tip of the nail was withdrawn after death, along with it came a small piece of the cross on which the young man died. From this, we know it was made of olive wood.
In addition to these facts, an examination of the young man’s bones provided yet another tell-tale detail in the growing list of physical evidence which verifies the historical accuracy of the Bible. According to the report at the Biblical Archaeology Review website link above:
“The victim’s broken legs not only provided crucial evidence for the position on the cross, but they also provide evidence for a Palestinian variation of Roman crucifixion—at least as applied to Jews. Normally, the Romans left the crucified person undisturbed to die slowly of sheer physical exhaustion leading to asphyxia. However, Jewish tradition required burial on the day of execution. Therefore, in Palestine the executioner would break the legs of the crucified person in order to hasten his death and thus permit burial before nightfall. This practice, described in the Gospels in reference to the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus (John 19:18), has now been archaeologically confirmed.”
Skeptics claim the gospels are pure fabrication, written far away from Palestine and too long after the events they describe to be trustworthy. But how then did the authors know to include the broken legs?
Jews were not crucified as others were in Roman times. Jews were crucified in a way unique to Jews. And in those days before free access to libraries, before encyclopedias, before the Internet, there is only one way the gospel authors would have known that fact: either they received the information directly from someone with personal knowledge of the way Jesus was crucified, or they were themselves eyewitnesses.