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Where Was Jesus Crucified?

"Finally Pilate [see Pontius Pilate] handed Him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers [see Roman Legions] took charge of Jesus. Carrying His own cross, He went out to The Place of The Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgatha. Here they crucified Him, and with Him two others - one on each side and Jesus in the middle." (John 19:16-18) See How Did Jesus Christ Die?

Skull Golgatha is a transliterated (written in one language according to how it sounds in another) word taken from the original Aramaic (a form of Hebrew that was very likely Jesus' primary language), meaning "skull." The Greek translation of Golgatha is kranion, which also means "skull". From the Greek word came the Latin calvaria, from which then came the word familiar to most English-speaking Christians, Calvary.

Although referred to in all four gospel books, there remains controversy in our time as to where exactly the Crucifixion took place. What is known for certain is that the site was:

  • Outside the existing Jerusalem walls of that time.

  • Close to an existing walking path or road.

  • Near the sepulcher where Jesus' body was placed.

  • Near where His subsequent resurrection took place.

Scholars have settled upon two likely sites:

1. A hill located just north of the Damascus Gate (see Jerusalem Gates) of the Old City. Its craggy rock side appears very much like an eerie skull face (in photo), especially when the sun's shadows cross it at particular times of the day. It is known as Gordon's Calvary from Charles Gordon who wrote of it in 1885. Earlier, in 1881, an empty burial chamber was discovered near this site and it too has become famous as The Garden Tomb.

2. The location over which the Church of The Holy Sepulcher has been built. This is the older, traditional choice among scholars.

Fact Finder: A sign was nailed to the cross above Jesus. What did it say?
Luke 23:38

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