When it comes to the life and times of one Jesus Christ, how much do we really know? Although Christian iconography widely depicts Jesus as having been nailed to the cross, historians claim there's actually not much evidence that crucifixions actually involved a hammer and nails.
As Dr. Meredith J. C. (coincidence?) Warren of the University of Sheffield explains for Discovery News, Romans weren't always keen on piercing the hands and feet of those with a cross to bear; often, they chose to affix them to the wooden posts with ropes tied around their wrists (less messy, you know?). In fact, some scholars have argued the original Biblical texts never actually mention crucifixion, let alone nails, in relation to Jesus' death, according to the Telegraph.
According to Warren, though, the other components of crucifixion were exactly the nightmare you've always pictured: painful and drawn-out, with victims eventually succumbing to asphyxiation or exhaustion. Usually reserved for only the lowest of status, it was also a punishment meant to publicly humiliate those who suffered it.
Eyewitness reports from the scene on that fateful Good Friday approximately 2,016 years ago are also conflicting. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all include the crucifixion event in their Gospel accounts of Jesus' death, but only John references wounds in the palms of the risen Jesus. The Gospel of Peter explicitly mentions nails being removed from Jesus' hands.
Though the exact method of crucifixion is contested, the symbol of Jesus on the cross remains powerful and enduring in the Christian tradition, whether his hands were bound or nailed.
h/t Discovery News