Pictured are three types of crosses commonly used by the Roman army in the first century A.D. Each carried an inscription stating the victim's capital offense and a seat-like projection, not designed for the victim's comfort, but to prolong their agony. Nails and ropes held the victim's legs and arms in place.
The cross on the left was called a “high tau” cross because it was shaped like the capital Greek letter tau (“T”). The middle cross was known as a “low tau” cross, shaped like the lower case tau (“t”). In both cases the central post was generally set permanently in the ground while the cross bar was carried to the site by the victim. The cross on the right was an actual tree still in the ground (dead or alive) with its limbs serving as the cross bar. Jesus was probably crucified on a “low tau” type cross.
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Author: Provided by the Bible archaeology experts of Associates for Biblical Research
. Drawing at top by Gene Fackler, Associates for Biblical Research