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Investigating the mechanics of Crucifixion

A photographic investigation of the mechanics of crucifixion

The traditional Roman punishment of crucifixion was originally intended to be a torture not a means of execution. It works by causing an extremely painful see-saw of pain. The arms are fixed outward onto a cross piece, but left slightly bent, as if taken out in a straight line the victim will sufficate to quickly, because he can not move his lungs to breath. However the victim would still have his chest held with his lungs expanded. The feet are then fixed together and fastened to an upright support. The victim's body is suspended on just three points of searing pain. Even if nails are used, through the wrists and feet, bloodloss is minimal and the victim remains fully conscious. He has now been set up for a simple but extremely painful dilemma.

The pain is indescribable as the victims's body-weight works against him, causing him to sag downwards producing traumatic tension in the muscles of his arms, shoulders and chest wall. The ribcage is drawn upwards so that his chest is held in a position preventing exhalation and in order to avoid asphyxiation the man has no alternative but to push down on the wounds of his nailed feet to raise his body, so that his lungs can blow out and gasp in another chestfull of air. The panic of not breathing is exchanged momentarily for the massive pain of standing upon impaled flesh. The overall effect of this repeating vile dilemma is increased anoxia (shortage of oxygen), leading to agonising cramps and a dramatically raised metabolic rate. Eventually the legs will cramp and fail and victim can not longer breathe. This could take days to occur but the trauma would be tremendous for the victim.