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The AD33 crucifixion detail in Judea
#1
You are the officer in charge and the Governor has authorized the crucifixion of three condemned. How many soldiers do you detail and what type?
How are they equipped?

You decide to assign the following detail:
Auxiliary Centurion as detail commander
Two auxiliary infantry soldiers per prisoner as close escort
Escort element for crowd control and security of sixteen auxiliary infantry eight preceding and eight following the prisoners
Three Legionary crucifixion specialists from the Local legion or Governor's guard cohort.

The Legionary troops are equipped with Hamatas the newer Segmentatia armor having not arrived in Judea yet.
Helmets are Gallic A s and Coolus types
The shields are oval for the auxiliary and Augustian scuta for the Legionnaires
The Legionary crucifixion specialists have been authorized to leave Pila behind to be able to carry their specialist equipment.

Have I got it right?
John Kaler MSG, USA Retired
Member Legio V (Tenn, USA)
Staff Member Ludus Militus https://www.facebook.com/groups/671041919589478/
Owner Vicus and Village: https://www.facebook.com/groups/361968853851510/
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#2
My opinion is slighlty different from traditional view of this ritual.

First: why soldiers would wear an armour and also an helm? They are going to crucifix some people not to ingage enemy in a battle.

Second: why all this aggressivity against crowd? It is supposed that very few parents and friends were following the condemned. Yes Jerusalemt had crowded small streets, but all these people were involved in their daily duties and business than take care about "another" crucifixion.

Third: so crowd was a little normal problem, so an escort of 6-7 men was needed only to "open" a path between the people as lictors did for senators or other authorities in Rome.

Fourth: why auxiliaries? The John Gospel speaks about an italic cohort at least for the Jesus famous execution. So it can be acceptable to display a Tesserarius or a Centurion as "responsible" for the execution and just a dozen of men for all the duties.

Fifth: overall impression. Just a tunica, caligae, balteus (very important) with a pugio, a pera (bag) for the needed tools, some of the men equipped with a pilum or much better with a short hasta/lancea, one men with the necessary tools to record the execution (ink and papirus or a simple wax table). Avoid armour, gladius, helmet, shield, insignas, etc.

But this is just "my" vision. Wink
Luca Bonacina
Provincia Cisalpina - Mediolanum
http://www.cisalpina.net
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#3
Quote:Fourth: why auxiliaries? The John Gospel speaks about an italic cohort at least for the Jesus famous execution.
The Italian Cohort (Cohors Prima Italica Civium Romanorum) was an auxiliary unit; cf. M.P. Speidel, 'The Roman Army in Judaea under the Procurators', in M.P. Speidel, Roman Army Studies II (1992 Stuttgart), pages 224-232.

That anything other than auxiliaries were involved, is also clear from Tacitus' famous words sub Tiberio quies. Nothing happened that mattered to a senator - like the sending of legions. Only the usual garrison was involved. It was not business as usual, probably, but it was something that the local troops were up to.
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#4
uh, interesting. I always read about that cohors as a non-standard cohors not really considered "auxialiary" because of its "italic" nature. Something similar to a pretorian cohors.
Thanks for the interesting details! Smile
Luca Bonacina
Provincia Cisalpina - Mediolanum
http://www.cisalpina.net
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#5
My view is also that they were auxilia, but probably lightly armed. I doubt they would be in full armor, but if there were some crowd control guards, they might carry hastae. (The Catholic Latin Bible I looked up the "spear" that was used to ensure Jesus' death says it was a "lancea", which would not be very different from our impression of a hasta. ) I doubt they had pila at all. My view also includes gladii, pugiones, and belt, shoes, tunics. There might have been a tool box or bag, too, since somebody had to have a hammer and nails, some ropes maybe, and other odds and ends.

However, whenever I have written up a stage production of this sort, I generally put the Romans in helmets, and sometimes armor, if any is available. The centurion I try to put in armor, just for distinction, although I don't think he'd have worn it, either. As you say, Luca, this was a work detail, not a battle. Post-crucifixion, I'm of the belief that the guards at the tomb were Herodian temple guards, not Romans, but for stage, there's usually not enough cast and props for that...so the same Romans get that duty. Sometimes the production requires some compromise with the known info, and with good guesses.
M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
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#6
Quote:The Catholic Latin Bible I looked up the "spear" that was used to ensure Jesus' death says it was a "lancea"
In Greek, John 19.34 has "logche", or "longche", as it is often rendered (hence the name "Longinus" that has been attached to the soldier). in other words, it was a short spear, not a long lance.
Quote:I'm of the belief that the guards at the tomb were Herodian temple guards, not Romans
I think that, given the location of the burial just outside the gate of Jerusalem, Roman soldiers are more likely than temple guards, whom I expect to be at the Temple square only. Besides, the dead man had been condemned for perduellio (high treason), a crime against the state; it was not for a religious reason that Pilate had condemned Jesus. To him, the man was "king of the Jews", not "redeemer of Israel".
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#7
No "specialists" are required for crucifixion! From what I've read, it's the detail pushed off on the guys who flunk out of latrine duty. Stick a big nail through a piece of wood to serve as a washer, hold the guest of honor's arm up against the crossbar, and nail it anywhere between radius and ulna. Repeat for other arm. He'll be squirming a bit, but give him a gut punch or kick in the nads, and a brawny soldier or two will be able to hold the arm in place long enough for the hammering to get done. Then while he's distracted, lift both feet off the ground and put a third nail through both heels into the side of the upright. Done! It's all very simple and low-tech, easily accomplished by anyone who can swing a hammer.

I agree that full battle gear is not necessary. Swords and spears, maybe shields. Armor and helmet only if the officers are feeling particularly annoying that day. Note that at least one soldier had his kit bag, since there was posca ("wine mixed with vinegar") and a sponge--the description of the sponge in the Gospels is a little vague, but they don't grow naturally on the hills around Jerusalem so I'm guessing this one has the traditional function! (If you do go with armor, why no segmentata? It had been in service for a good 40 years at that point, 2 whole generations of soldiers, so it would have been plenty common.)

I think we're bantering semantics with the spear! And using conflicting definitions as well. Aren't auxiliaries generally shown with a pair of lanceae? On grave stones at least. I'm defining "lancea" as a light spear with a throwing loop, suitable for either thrusting or throwing. They're shown about 6 feet tall, so they weren't likely to have been much shorter than that. "Hasta" I take to be a simple thrusting spear, anywhere from 6 to 9 feet, not having a throwing loop but not necessarily too heavy to throw. Is there more evidence to narrow things down more than that? And how much evidence is there for an auxiliary being armed with only a thrusting spear rather than multiple throwing spears? Just curious!

Happy nailing!

Matthew
Matthew Amt (Quintus)
Legio XX, USA
<a class="postlink" href="http://www.larp.com/legioxx/">http://www.larp.com/legioxx/
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#8
Let's not forget that up until the last minute the governor Pilatus and puppet King Antipas assumed that they'd be crucifying Barabbas, who is identified as an "insurrectionist." They might well have laid on a heavier armed detail than usual for fear of an attempted rescue by Barabbas's friends.
Pecunia non olet
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#9
Quote:Let's not forget that up until the last minute the governor Pilatus and puppet King Antipas assumed that they'd be crucifying Barabbas, who is identified as an "insurrectionist." They might well have laid on a heavier armed detail than usual for fear of an attempted rescue by Barabbas's friends.
I think this is also true for Jesus. He had created a riot on the Temple Mount after entering the city on a donkey, which was a claim to royalty (Zechariah 9:9). Note that, writing at the end of the first century, the writer of the gospel of John still felt embarrased: he took away the story of the cleansing of the Temple from Christ's final days (where the synoptic gospels place it), and removed it as far as possible, to the beginning of Jesus' public life (John 2.12ff). Also note the extreme visibility of the execution: at the main entrance to the city (the old wall of Jerusalem joined another wall only a couple of meters from the traditional site of Golgotha; there was a gate). Any pilgrim entering Jerusalem must have understood the message that the authorities wanted to convey: no messianic hopes this year. The riot must have been a very heavy one, the authorities acted accordingly, and I would say that the incident was remembered as the direct cause of Jesus' arrest.

For clarity's sake: I am not claiming that the man who coined the phrase about the other cheek was a terrorist, but he attracted freightingly large, and not always peaceful crowds. There were at least eight types of messianology back than, but to Caiaphas and Pilate all signs suggested that Jesus was one of the "Davidic" type: restoration of Israel by violent expulsion of the Romans. The priest and the prefect had good reasons to be suspicious, and I would therefore think that the crucifixion was done by armed soldiers.

About the details of Jesus' final eighteen hours, a good book is Raymond Brown's The Death of the Messiah (1992), which does not treat the types of armor and arms, but does discuss such details as the shape of the cross, the cause of death, the reliability of the identification of Golgotha and the tomb, the vinegar offered to Jesus, and so on. (If that is relevant, the book received a bishop's nihil obstat and is, generally speaking, conservative in tone; this is not the liberal approach of the Jesus Seminar, but serious scholarship.)
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#10
I agree with John and Jona. Both prisoners had their followers 'lobbying' for their release.
The authorities must have feared that one or, probably, both sides would resort to force.
If Christ did not have a significant following then the Sanhedrin would not have bothered
turning him over to Pilate for execution in the first place. (The Sanhedrin subsequently
ordered the execution of perhaps several disciples of Jesus without resorting to use the
Romans, as in the case of St. Stephen). So, I think the traditional view of fully armed
soldiers is plausible.

But what really makes it likely that the soldiers were fully armed in my mind is when Jesus was
arrested, tortured, and executed - during Passover (the reason why Pilate was in Jerusalem
in the first place !) During Passover the Romans reinforced the city's garrison to control the
population which was swelled by thousands of religious pilgrims. The streets were more crowded than
usual and thus more volatile - hence the extra soldiers sent to both protect Pilate and strengthen
the garrison. The soldiers were probably on "high alert" for the entire duration of the festival.

So, I vote for full armor, weapons, shields, and spears for all those involved in the Crucifixion.
Spears (hastae) make more sense for crowd control (given how easily the pilum's head would bend,
and the theory that most auxiliaries did not use them anyway).

~Theo
~~~~~jaime~~~~~~
Fathers of the Church
[Image: CRShield02.png]
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#11
Brought up in the Christian Church, the story of the crucifixion was drummed into my head
by ministers who were more dogmatic than historically accurate. As one who began serious studies of history as early as 11 years of age, too much of what the pastors taught did not make sense.
The preacher would stand in his pulpit, point to the center of the palm of his hand, and
state: "...and they drove the nails through, RIGHT HERE!." Now, one look at my hand convinced me that the webbing between the bones of the human hand could not support
the weight of a man so crucified, and research proved my suspicions correct.
Another misconception: "....and when Jesus said ' I thurst,' the CRUEL Romans passed a
sponge, soaked in VINEGAR, to his lips." Well, from what I was able to find, the vinegar was
"gall", and that is merely wine turned to vinegar from exposure to the air. That was probably all the soldier had, and his act was one of mercy, not "cruelty."
My father-in-law, a farmer, regularly used vinegar mixed with water to keep him refreshed when he worked in his fields on hot days. Would the Romans have done the same?
The Gospels were written after the fact, by many years in some cases. Plus, they were translated, mis-translated, edited, some were discarded under Constantine, etc.
Maybe Pilate was right when he asked: "What IS truth?"
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#12
Quote:regularly used vinegar mixed with water to keep him refreshed when he worked in his fields on hot days. Would the Romans have done the same?
Yes, standard soldier canteen water was vinegar mixed with water. They called it posca.
M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
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#13
..At the risk of stating the obvious, the vinegar was the ancient soldier's equivalent of the modern soldier's "water purifying tablet", and not there for taste reasons......
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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#14
Quote:"....and when Jesus said ' I thurst,' the CRUEL Romans passed a
sponge, soaked in VINEGAR, to his lips." Well, from what I was able to find, the vinegar was
"gall", and that is merely wine turned to vinegar from exposure to the air. That was probably all the soldier had, and his act was one of mercy, not "cruelty."

What they said about the drink itself (though the reference may simply be to acetum, the cheap/sour wine normally drunk by soldiers and civilians alike). The *cruel* part is the sponge, which really has to be a toilet sponge! Don't worry, the soldiers are not being nice.

Centuries of mistranslations and misinterpretations have certainly muddied the waters, but Truth can still be found.

Vale,

Matthew
Matthew Amt (Quintus)
Legio XX, USA
<a class="postlink" href="http://www.larp.com/legioxx/">http://www.larp.com/legioxx/
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#15
Quote:The *cruel* part is the sponge, which really has to be a toilet sponge!
...well, maybe not necessarily cruel - the 'Hissop'(?IIRC) would have been the only thing to hand to get the liquid to the mouth of a man high up who couldn't use his hands.....and the sponge had doubtless been rinsed clean for re-use, and the possibility of infection was hardly an issue! Therefore still conceivably a kindness.....
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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