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Skull and Bones Symbol: The Real Golgotha

The secret symbol of the skull and bones is also representative of Golgotha, the supposed location of Jesus’ crucifixion, and therefore has an important relationship to Christianity. The skull and bones symbol represents a direct emblematic allusion to the of Jesus Christ, representing both the place and manner in which Jesus died.

The Skull

Golgotha is a term derived from the Aramaic language widely used during the time of Jesus and means “place of the skull”, referring to either a hill or plateau on which a pile of skulls were located or on a hill or plateau geographically shaped like a human skeleton. It has been speculated that Golgotha may be a contraction of Gol Goatha, meaning “mount of execution” in accordance with the belief that the site was a place of execution under the rule of the Romans. Golgotha is also referred to as Calvary (Calvaria in Latin and Kranion in Greek), which also means “skull”.

Golgotha is described in the New Testament as a hill located outside of the city of Jerusalem (John 19:20). Jesus’ crucifixion is also described as occurring outside of the city’s walls (Hebrews 13:12). This description is in accordance with Jewish tradition, which required the individual to be buried near the place of his execution.

Golgotha is referred to in all four Acts of the Apostles:

  • Matthew: “They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull)” (Matthew 27:33).
  • Mark: “They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the Place of the Skull)” (Mark 15:22).
  • Luke: “And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left” (Luke 23:33).
  • John: “So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha)” (John 19:17).

Jewish tradition holds that Golgotha was the place where Adam’s skull was deposited, after Noah gave it to his son Shem, who in turn gave it to Melchisedech, the king of Salem who was also a priest. Therefore, the site was given the name “The Place of the Skull”.

The Crossed Bones

The crossed bones are also symbolic of the Crucifixion, referring to the cross on which Jesus Christ died. In addition, this symbol is also emblematic of the unique way in which Jesus died. Unlike the other two men crucified along with Jesus, Jesus did not have his legs broken by the Roman soldiers: “So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was dead already, so they didn't break his legs” (John 19:32-33). Breaking the bones of those executed was a Roman tradition meant to hasten death, and was therefore considered a merciful act. This distinction fulfilled scripture referring to the manner in which Jesus would die.

Jesus of Nazareth Mary Magdalene: Mariamne Early Christianity
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