Construction of the Cross – Roman Engineering

Construction of the Cross – Roman Engineering

As we near Good Friday we see many reenactments of Jesus carrying His cross

In all probability, these depictions are inaccurate. The Roman army, charged with conducting the inhumane torture and executions via crucifixion, were experts at efficiency. They had refined this grizzly process to a fine art. The Romans wanted to exert the absolute maximum of pain and torture to the “criminal” with minimum effort on their part.

Prisoners did not carry the entire cross to their executions. Instead, they carried only the cross-piece, known as a patibulum. The palibulum was placed across the shoulders with the arms tied in place. Nails, when used, were placed through the wrists at the place of the execution. The nails were not intended to support the prisoner as much as they were to inflict maximum pain. The nails severed nerves in the wrists, one of the greatest sources of pain a man can experience.

The vertical part of the cross, known as the stipe, was permanently placed at the site of executions. It was much more efficient than digging a hole and inserting the stipe each time someone was to be crucified. Roman efficiency!

The stipe was not particularly tall, just high enough to make sure that the prisoner’s feet would not touch the ground when the patibulum was installed. The Romans didn’t want to exert too much effort lifting the palibulum, with prisoner attached, up to the top of the stipe. The reason hyssop was offered to Jesus on a stick wasn’t because the prisoner was so high, it was to prevent the Roman soldier’s fingers being bitten off.

The feet were tied to the stipe so that the prisoner could “lift” himself up and keep himself from suffocating too soon. This would prolong the suffering and maximize the pain. A prisoner could live as long as a week if allowed by the executioners. When nails were used, again it was to sever nerves and maximize pain rather than to support the prisoner.

The Romans who carried out the crucifixion of Jesus were members of the 10th Legion, mercenaries known for their brutality. This was routine duty for the executioners. To them, Jesus was just one more criminal to be killed with maximum pain, an example to others who defied Roman power. Just another day’s gruesome work.

So, at every step the Romans were in control of a highly organized, very efficient process. They were the pros!


They controlled NOTHING! The Romans, with all their power, organization, professionalism and engineering were just supporting actors in a much greater plan.

The power and majesty of God!

Shalom, Art
Alive in the Word


About aliveintheword

Missouri, USA Married to Marty, 45 years 2 sons (with 2 daughers-in-law) and 2 granddaughters Life dedicated to serving Jesus Christ and delivering the Good News
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5 Responses to Construction of the Cross – Roman Engineering

  1. Reblogged this on ChristianBlessings and commented:

    In preparation for Holy Week…

  2. granbee says:

    Hallelujah and pass the Roman engineers right by! Shalom back at you, Art, for emphasizing how those Roman mercenary soldiers were just actors of God’s stage, bit players in His plan of salvation for us all (all who so choose to accept this free gift of Grace!).

  3. writinggomer says:

    It NEVER fails to blow me away, that the creator of the universe, God Himself, did this…suffered this much for me, an unworthy sinful man. I think it is good that we are reminded on occasion just exactly what Jesus went through (as much as our human minds can understand) for us. Now this is love…

    Thanks for sharing this.


    • Absolutely right, Greg. THAT is sacrificial love. I opted to not go through the horrific kind of death caused by the crucifixion of a man. The Romans used it because it was the MOST horrifying, painful type of death they could inflict… the POWER of Rome on display. It ranked right up there with the thumbs up/thumbs down display of absolute power over life and death in the gladiatorial arena.

      Jesus went willingly. In the end, it was not the crucifixion that killed the mortal man. He triumphed again, willing Himself to “give up the ghost.”

      “It is finished.”

      Thanks for your support on my ramblings. It is deeply appreciated.

      Shalom, Art

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