10 Interesting Facts About Crucifixion

By Cristian Violatti; for Listverse

Crucifixion is arguably the cruelest form of execution. When we read ancient sources, it is hard to distinguish the practice of crucifixion from other similar punishments like impalement.

The Romans learned it from their neighbors and used it especially in the provinces, mostly to discipline their subjects and discourage rebellions. Little did the Romans imagine that the crucifixion of a humble Jew in a lost corner of their territory would give the crucifixion an enduring fame.

Featured image credit: Carl Heinrich Bloch

10 Crucifixion In Persia


Many ancient rulers used crucifixion to send a message to their subjects about the things they should not be doing. During the reign of Persian king Darius I (r. 522–486 BC), the city of Babylon dismissed the Persian authorities and revolted against them around 522–521 BC.

Darius launched a campaign to recapture Babylon and laid siege to the city. The gates and walls of Babylon held for 19 months until the Persians broke the defenses and stormed the city.

Herodotus (Histories 3.159) reports that Darius stripped away the wall of Babylon and tore down all its gates. The city was returned to the Babylonians, but Darius decided to send a message that revolts would not be tolerated by crucifying 3,000 of the highest-ranking Babylonians.

9 Crucifixion In Greece


In 332 BC, Alexander the Great captured the Phoenician city of Tyre, which was being used as a naval base by the Persians. This was accomplished after a long siege that lasted from January until July.

After Alexander’s army broke the defenses, the Tyrian army was defeated and some ancient sources claim that 6,000 men were killed that day. Based on Greek sources, the ancient Roman writers Diodorus and Quintus Curtius reported that Alexander ordered the crucifixion of 2,000 survivors of military age along the beach.

8 Crucifixion In Rome


Crucifixion was not a general form of capital punishment under Roman law. It was only allowed under specific circumstances. Slaves could be crucified only for robbery or rebellion.

Roman citizens were immune to crucifixion unless they were found guilty of high treason. However, during later imperial times, humble citizens could be crucified for specific crimes. In the provinces, the Romans employed crucifixion to punish what they referred to as “unruly” people who were sentenced for robbery and other types of crimes (Metzger and Coogan 1993: 141–142).

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