Scourging1 (1)

Except for women or Roman dignitaries, persons condemned to crucifixion were scourged prior to being lead to the execution site. A quaterno of four soldiers, supervised by a centurion (the exactor mortis), comprised the crucifixion team. The exactor mortis was responsible for verifying death of the victims, exemplified in the biblical account with Jesus (Mark 15:43-45).

There was no limitation on extent or severity Roman scourging, except the condemned should not be killed prior to crucifixion. The whip used for scourging, referred to as the flagrum or flagellum, consisted of leather strands with lead balls or pieces of bone (goat or lamb talus) sewn into the ends. Beating with a flagrum would cause contusions and lacerations extending to the trunk, arms and legs. The scourging of Jesus was his third beating. Roman soldiers were known to have anti-Semitic feelings and they would have viewed Jesus as a political insurgent, heightening the brutality of their scourging.

The repeated beatings Jesus experienced, finalized with a scourging, exceeds the typical degree of pre-execution torture. The potential effects of this are several, from a medical standpoint. It could have lead to internal organ damage such as pnemothorax (collapsed lung), pleural effusion (fluid around the lung), a possible component of a consumptive coagulopathy (depletion of blood products involved in clotting), as well as greater than usual blood loss making him vulnerable to shock.