Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Calvary (Golgotha) is the English-language name given to the hill outside Jerusalem on which Jesus was crucified according to Christian tradition. Calvaria in Latin, Κρανιου Τοπος (Kraniou Topos) in Greek and Gûlgaltâ in Aramaic all mean 'skull', referring to a hill or plateau containing a pile of skulls or to a geographic feature resembling a skull.
- Matthew 27:33
- And they came to a place called Golgotha, which is called the Place of the Skull.
- Mark 15:22
- And they took him up to the place Golgotha, which is translated Place of the Skull.
- Luke 23:33
- Then they came up to the place called Skull.
- John 19:17
- And carrying his cross by himself, he went out to the so-called Place of the Skull, which is called in 'Hebrew' Golgotha.
Luke's Gospel does not give the local, Aramaic name, Golgotha. John's somewhat incorrectly labels the name as 'Hebrew', indicating the 'language of the Hebrews', which was Aramaic at that time.
The New Testament describes Calvary as close to Jerusalem (John 19:20), and outside of its walls (Hebrews 13:12). This is in accordance with Jewish tradition, as Jesus was also buried near to the place of his execution.
Roman emperor Constantine the Great built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on what was thought to be the location of Calvary in 336. The church is now within Jerusalem's Old City Walls, but was probably beyond them at the time in question. Inside the church is a pile of rock about 3 m high, believed to be what now remains visible of Calvary.
In 1885, Charles George Gordon suggested a different location for Calvary. The Garden Tomb is to the north of the Holy Sepulchre, located outside of the modern Damascus Gate , in a place of burial certainly in the Byzantine period. The Garden has an earthen cliff that contains two large sunken holes that people say to be the eyes of the skull.
The name Calvary often refers to sculptures or pictures representing the scene of the crucifixion of Jesus, or a small wayside shrine incorporating such a picture. It also can be used to describe larger, more monument-like constructions, essentially artificial hills often built by devotees.
Churches in various Christian denominations have been named Calvary. The name is also sometimes given to cemeteries, especially those associated with the Catholic Church.
Note: the name should not be confused with cavalry (horsemen).
- Golgotha (Calvary) Hill - Photo.
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