Wednesday, December 09, 2015

The crucified man

OSTEOLOGY: This One Bone Is The Only Skeletal Evidence For Crucifixion In The Ancient World (Kristina Killgrove, Forbes).
The bioarchaeology of crucifixion is therefore a bit of a conundrum: it makes sense that finding evidence may be difficult because of the ravages of time on bones and wooden crosses, but the sheer volume of people killed in this way over centuries should have given us more direct evidence of the practice.

A lot of rather random chance is involved in the creation of the archaeological record – from weather conditions to cultural customs to rodent activity. Even though there are problems involved in the preservation of evidence of crucifixion, the case of Yehohanan ben Hagkol shows that skeletal evidence might some day give us more information about the practice.
This article is about the well-known skeletal remains of one Yehohanan ben Hagkol. But I am surprised that it doesn't mention a second skeleton found in Jerusalem in 1970 which also may be the remains of a crucified person. It is possible that Dr. Killgrove does not accept that this body was crucified, but it would have been helpful for her to discuss it and explain why. You can read about that case here, and follow the links for more on the crucified body discussed in today's Forbes article. See also here. And for past posts on the gruesome physiology of crucifixion, see here, here, here, here, and here, and links.