A Picture Of Crucifixion
Christ on the Cross by Murillo, 1677
The Ruthless Efficiency Of A Roman Execution
The crucifixion was carried out by a squad consisting of a Roman centurion and four soldiers. The condemned man was stripped and the crossbar attached to the upright stake, so the feet were off the ground. The feet were then nailed to the wooden upright, with a small seat (called a sedecula=little seat) to provide some support for the victim which merely prolonged the process of dying. In some cases it took several days for a person to die.
Breaking The Legs Of Victims
To shorten the process the Romans sometimes broke the legs of the victim (a process called crurifragium=leg-breaking). The soldiers at Jesus' crucifixion had already broken the legs of the other two crucified that day, and were about to do the same to Jesus, when they noticed, to their surprise, he was already dead. To ensure he really was dead, one of the soldiers took a spear and thrust it into Jesus' chest (JOHN 19:34).