Are These the Nails That Held Jesus to the Cross?

New evidence has surfaced about two 2,000-year-old nails alleged to have been found in Caiaphas' tomb.

By Nancy Flory Published on October 12, 2020

Two 2,000-year-old nails at a Tel Aviv University lab and linked to the tomb of Caiaphas may be the nails that held Jesus to the cross. Or at least new research offers that tantalizing possibility.

The nails were first discovered in a 1990 excavation of the Caiaphas family tomb, reported Haaretz. Caiaphas was the high priest associated with Jesus’ crucifixion, the only crucifixion to which he was linked. A July 2020 study asserts that there is more evidence to support the idea that the nails came from Caiaphas’ tomb and that they were used in a crucifixion. Perhaps that of Jesus.

The nails were “misplaced” and were not photographed in 1990. But nearly 20 years ago, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) sent two boxes to Prof. Israel Hershkovitz of the Sackler School of Medicine and Anthropology laboratory at Tel Aviv University, according to the study. One of the boxes, which was unmarked, contained two nails.

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A few years ago, Hershkovitz showed the two nails to journalist and Naked Archaeologist host Simcha Jacobovici. Jacobovici studied the Caiaphas family tomb and hypothesized that the two nails were indeed the lost nails from the tomb. He also believed that the nails were used in a crucifixion and considering the location where they were found, could have been the nails used in Jesus’ crucifixion. Caiaphas, mentioned in detail in the Bible (specifically Matthew 26:57-66) as the high priest who handed Jesus over to the Romans, was not linked to any other crucifixion. 

Potentially Monumental Discovery

“The possibility that the nails were used in a crucifixion on the one hand and can be connected to Caiaphas the high priest on the other is, to say the least, interesting and potentially monumental,” the study states. Testing on the nails revealed microscopic pieces of wood and bone attached to the artifacts. Testing also revealed fungal spores, which were identical to those found in Caiaphas’ tomb but discrete from those in other, nearby tombs.

In addition, the nails were bent on the ends, suggesting that they were used in a crucifixion to hold the person to a cross. The authors of the study wrote that based on the evidence they found, “we conclude, with considerable confidence, that the unprovenanced nails are the lost nails excavated from the Caiaphas family tomb in 1990 and furthermore that these nails were used in a crucifixion.”

Whether the nails were used in Jesus’ crucifixion, we may never know. But it’s possible.


Nancy Flory is an associate editor at The Stream. You can follow her @NancyFlory3, and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

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