A new analysis of the Shroud of Turin suggests that whoever created it thought crucifixion involved the hands being nailed above the head.
The Shroud of Turin is a piece of linen cloth imprinted with the faint image of a naked man with what appear to be streams of blood running down his arms and other wounds.
Some believe it is the cloth in which Jesus' body was wrapped after crucifixion. But reliable records of it only begin in the 14th century, and carbon dating suggests the Shroud is a medieval forgery.
Matteo Borrini at Liverpool John Moores University in the UK wanted to know if the "bloodstains" on the left arm, the clearest ones, were consistent with the flow of blood from the wrist of a crucified person. So he asked Luigi Garlaschelli of the University of Pavia, Italy, to assume different crucifixion postures, while a cannula attached to his wrist dribbled donated blood down his arm.
They found that the marks on the shroud did correspond to a crucifixion, but only if the arms were placed above the head in a "Y" position, rather than in the classic "T" depiction, New Scientist reported.
Borrini said that this would have been a very painful position and one which would have created difficulty breathing. Someone crucified in this way may have died from asphyxiation.
Borrini added that similar positions were used during medieval torture, but in those cases the victims were suspended from a beam by binding their wrists with rope, rather than using nails.
This article appeared in print under the headline 'Shroud of Turin depicts Y-shaped crucifixion'.