And that means the headboard, or as the technical term has it, the Titulus, the inscription on the cross of Jesus, that, if it still existed, or a fragment of it, could be authenticated.
Thats exactly what we found, what we established still existed, today in a church in Rome in Italy, which originally, thats the fascinating thing about it, was the palace of Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, who is the very person, Helena, who according to tradition, found the cross and headboard in Jerusalem in 328.
So the prefect, Pontius Pilate sealed and signed the death warrant in Latin. Its a tiny detail in the Greek; you wont notice this in any English translation but its there in the Greek, which means of course that anyone who knew the gospels, particularly the one of John, would have copied one of the existing gospel versions which is, as I said, not the case on the PC file in Rome, therefore it cant be a forgery.
A forger copies and existing model so as not to cause suspicion, if you like.
But this is no ordinary piece of wood from the cross, as Carsten Thiede explains.
Carsten Thiede: The cross as such, theres two bars or beams, the vertical and the horizontal one, when you look at the actual crucifixion of Jesus or any Roman crucifixion for that matter, what the person to be crucified would have carried to the site of the crucifixion was not the complete cross, it was just the horizontal beam, the horizontal bar.
She asked the local, the Christian community where is that site, because it wasnt visible any more, the site of Golgotha and the empty tomb.
Another Emperor, Hadrian, in 135, had actually built a temple dedicated to the Roman goddess Venus above the two sides, the twin sides of Golgotha, and the empty tomb, so all Helena had to do when she was told about this was to pull down the temple, which she did, and underneath she found indeed the hillock of Golgotha and tombs, one of them, according to tradition, was the tomb of Jesus. Rachael Kohn: She was in her late 70s or 80s then; how long did she stay in Jerusalem to have this temple pulled down and excavated?
It would have been used and re-used and re-used again, many, many times, over many years.
Rachael Kohn: Well the Titulus itself, its inscription, Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews, now thats what you would expect, certainly from the Gospel accounts.
So how do you know that this inscription precedes the Gospel accounts?
You see what happened was when someone was crucified, the horizontal beam and the inscription, which was not just an inscription for Jesus, anyone who was crucified by the Romans in those days had at least a papyrus or a piece of wood attached to his neck or attached to the cross detailing the reason why that person was crucified.
That was Roman law so people would see even from a distance why that person had been crucified. So once a person had been crucified, the relatives or friends could take everything that belonged to the crucified person away, including of course the corpse to bury him or her. How did they find out which of the crosses was the one of Jesus?