How does the crucifixion kill a person

The Roman method of execution of crucifixion was intended to intentionally kill a condemned person particularly slowly and cruelly. It could be days before his death occurred. The painful death of the crucified for as long as possible should humiliate, intimidate and deter observers. But there was no Roman rule on exactly how a crucifixion was to be carried out. The executioners' commands, which often consisted of delegated soldiers, were granted a high degree of freedom. However, they had to closely guard the convicts until the sentence was carried out and death occurred. Roman security guards themselves had to face the death penalty if they did not fulfill their mandate and enabled the escape of a death row inmate.

The complete Roman execution procedure in the imperial era consisted of four sub-steps, which, however, were not always and everywhere carried out one after the other:

–the complete undressing of the convict and his public scourging;
–the forced crossbeam or furcat carrying to the place of execution;
–shackling or nailing his body to a furca or the crossbar;

its attachment to a tree or on the prepared stake. The person and the crossbeam were lifted up and connected to the vertical pole.

The scourging of the undressed with a whip, often also studded with nails, tormented and humiliated the affected person additionally, weakened his organism through the exertion and tension under the blows, pain and blood loss. This could already be fatal and shortened the dying time on the cross, so that the number of blows was usually limited.

In the beginning, people in Rome often used a bar triangle (Latin furca), actually an agricultural tool (fork). It was hung around the condemned man's neck and his arms were tied to the furca's thighs. In this posture, he was flogged and had to walk from the execution chair to the execution site. Then the furca was hung with him on a rammed stake. It was later replaced by a crossbeam that was attached to the top of the post or hung with a rope from the top third of the post or from a tree. This resulted in the two best-known cross shapes (crux commissa in T-shape, crux immissa in † shape).

Arms and legs were tied or nailed to stakes and crossbars. The actual crucifixion began. The nailing was done in such a way that the blood loss was kept to a minimum. According to anatomical tests, the nails did not have to be driven through the palms of the hands, but through the carpal bones or the space between the ulna and the radius, and through the tarsus or heel bone in order to be able to support the body weight. For the feet, this is confirmed by a skeleton find in Jerusalem from the 1st century, in which the nail was still stuck in the heel bone. This is also the first physical evidence of a Roman crucifixion.

With heels nailed to the side, a cross piece called a sedile was sometimes added halfway up, on which the crucified could temporarily support his buttocks. This also relieved the crucified Christ's arms, which were attached to the crossbeam, in order to make it easier for him to breathe. Often the legs of the condemned person were placed on a small crossbar (suppedaneum) so that he would not be immediately dragged down by his own weight and passed out or lost too much blood with nailed limbs. Where this was customary, it was considered a favor to break the crucified Christ's feet or lower legs after a while in order to prevent him from supporting and thus shorten his agony. In addition, relatives sometimes bribed the executioners.

Often the crucified one was given some liquid with a sponge over several days so that he did not die of thirst prematurely in order to prolong his torments: mostly water, sometimes with wine vinegar (posca), and with analgesic or numbing herbs.

Hanging upside down was particularly cruel. However, relatives were able to buy the convicts out of this. Where it happened, the executed person passed out more quickly and died earlier.

During the Crurifragium, the legs of those executed were broken. As a result, they hung even more heavily on their arm nails or ropes and died faster but more painfully as a result.

Death from suffocation, circulatory collapse or heart failure usually occurred within three days in people who were not previously weakened. It was preceded by torments such as thirst, gangrene and spasms of the respiratory muscles.

After death, Roman soldiers tested whether the executed person was really dead by stabbing the stomach with a lance (pilum). They usually left the body hanging on the cross until its parts fell off when completely rotten. According to their religious beliefs, the shadow of the dead could not reach the underworld due to the lack of contact with the earth. In some regions, however, consideration was given to religious regulations that ordered a timely burial.

(Source: wikipedia)


Story of the crucifixion

Crucifixion is first known from the Phoenicians, a sea and trading people in the Mediterranean. There, condemned people were tied to a tree - later called arbor infelix ("unlucky tree") by the Romans - and then left to freeze or die of thirst. Therefore the agony often lasted days.

Around 1000 BC This method of execution experienced its first high phase. Through the trade contacts of the Phoenicians, she came to Mesopotamia to the Assyrians who were then ruling there and to Persia. A condemned man was only tied up there, but not yet nailed to the ground. Herodotus reports in the 5th century BC Of cross punishments especially with the Persians.

In Athens, crucifixions are hardly mentioned in literary texts of the 5th and 4th centuries BC; However, it is known from court speeches that crucifixion was the usual type of punishment for crimes against property. It is concluded from this that it was practiced frequently and mainly affected members of the impoverished lower classes.

Since the Macedonian Empire, nailing was also widely practiced. Special places of execution for the crucifixion were now created - mostly on a mountain or hill - and stakes specially designed for this purpose were used. 332 BC After the conquest of Tire, Alexander the Great crucified about 2,000 men of military age.

The Romans adopted the crucifixion from the Macedonians and Carthaginians. In the Roman Empire it was preferred to crucify slaves in order to deter other slaves from fleeing or committing other crimes. Insurgents were also executed in this way, especially in conquered areas. The crucifixion was therefore a political punishment to secure and maintain the Pax Romana internally and externally.

Julius Caesar let about 30 pirates who him 76 BC. Had attacked on a sea voyage, later crucified. After the final defeat of the insurgent slave army leader Spartacus in 71 BC. Around 6,000 of his followers were crucified along the Via Appia from Rome to Capua. Since then, crucifixion has also spread as a punishment against non-Romans.

Roman citizens were legally not allowed to be crucified, but were mostly beheaded, exposed to the possibility of suicide or banned. For the Roman class judiciary, crucifixion was considered an extremely humiliating, shameful slave death that Roman citizens wanted nothing to do with. Cicero wrote: "Nomen ipsum crucis absit non modo a corpore civium Romanorum, sed etiam a cogitatione, oculis, auribus." Eyes and ears. ”Nevertheless, Roman sources occasionally mention the crucifixion of Roman citizens as a drastic measure by tyrannical emperors or governors.

In AD 70, the Roman general and later emperor Titus had 500 or more Jews fleeing from hunger scourged, tortured and then crucified in front of the city wall of Jerusalem during the Jewish war in order to weaken the resistance of the besieged. According to Josephus, wood soon became scarce because of the many crosses that were erected. He writes: "In their tremendous bitterness, the soldiers nailed the prisoners in mockery in the most varied of body positions, and since there were so many of them, there was soon insufficient space for the crosses and crosses for the bodies."

Even kings from the Herod dynasty, including the ruler of Judea at the turn of the ages, Herodes Archelaus, and the ruler of Galilee at the time of Jesus, Herodes Antipas, sometimes had their opponents crucified. Herod's successors were stripped of the title of King of the Jews. After Galilee and Judea were directly subordinate to the Roman prefecture, the execution of capital criminals also fell within Roman competence.

After the end of Israel's statehood and after the Pharisees persecuted under Alexander Jannai had risen to the leadership group of Judaism, the Talmud forbade hanging and thus crucifixion as a method of execution and only allowed the symbolic hanging of those who had already been killed as a temporary deterrent in order to adhere to the Torah regulations suffice.

The crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth is at the center of the Passion accounts in the New Testament. Then it happened through Romans who took action on Jewish initiative. The Roman governor Pontius Pilate gave the execution order. He also had Jesus scourged and tortured.

(Source: wikipedia)