Until the middle of the 20th century, archaeologists had at their disposal no serious finds that could give a clear picture of crucifixion as a type of execution, especially in Judea, controlled by the Romans from the second half of the 1st century BC. But in 1968, an ossuary (a carved stone urn) was discovered in the Israeli settlement of Givat HaMivtar containing the remains of Yohanan ben Ha-Galgul, a person who was crucified around the age of 30. This ossuary dates back to the 1st century A.D. It was the first of the two known entombments of people executed by crucifixion.
Judging by the remains of Yohanan, the execution was extremely painful and cruel. The heel bones of the deceased were pierced through, and the arm bones suggest having been severely stretched before Yohanan’s death and, possibly, pierced with nails. The find in Givat HaMivtar confirmed that those executed by crucifixion were not tied to pillars, but crucified on T- or X-shaped crosses. Despite having been subjected to such a severe execution, Yohanan was nevertheless granted the traditional burial, which increases the credibility among scholars of the gospel story of the burial of the Lord Jesus Christ in the cave of Joseph of Arimathea.
Another burial site containing remains of a crucified Roman man was found in 2007 not far from Venice. This time the remains looked as if the crucified person was simply buried in the ground, ignoring the appropriate rituals. The heel bones of the Roman were also pierced with nails, as was the case with Yohanan ben Ha-Galgul.
The two entombments give reliable information about the terrible and painful execution that Jesus Christ was subjected to, for the salvation of the human race.
Sergey Kovach. PhD in Theology, lecturer at the Kiev Theological Academy
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds