At this point, there are 3 places that are considered prime possibilities for the crucifixion. The other two are The Church of the Holy Sepulchre and another location to the N. E. side just outside the walls also. Today I will just present the information we got on this location just north of the existing walls of Jerusalem near the Damascus Gate. It is marked on the map below as numbers 1 and 2. (Golgotha an Garden Tomb.)
It is being taken care of by a non-profit organization which made a very clear, realistic, honest and factual presentation about the possibility of this place being the place of choice for the true location of the crucifixion.
In 1883 a British General Charles Gordon was visiting Jerusalem and as he looked north from inside the walls, he noticed a cliff with the indentations you see in both the photo above and the photo below. What he noticed was the image of a face or skull marked by indentations or caves in the rock face. It looked like a skull. Would that be why it was called exactly that?
The photo above was taken in 1883. The photo below was taken by me in 2013. The photo above has the mouth part of the face, mine below dose not. By this time a bus stop parking lot has been build which now covers the mouth part of the image.
General Gordon remembered the Gospels description as the place of the skull and so began an investigation. Over time several discoveries made it clear that this could certainly be the place. First, there was a tomb carved out of the rock nearby. Secondly, a hug wine press was discovered. One of the things to consider was that it would have taken money to carve out a personal tomb. Who had that kind of money? The person who owned this tomb was Joseph of Arimathia and it turns out he was wealthy. Near the tomb a huge winepress was also discovered. Confirming, by it's size that whoever owned it was a person of means. Could it be this Joseph dude?
Also, the Romans did their executions In public places. On high ground and in a place of high traffic. The purpose was that this was to be seen by the people to let them know that there were consequences for criminal activity. It had to do with deterrence. This location fit all of those criteria.
Also, the Bible mentions there was a garden nearby. For that to work would mean there would have to be a water source for this garden. Would you believe that near this tomb there is also one of the largest water cisterns ever found in Jerusalem!
Below is the tomb found nearby. This was no ordinary tomb. First, it was large. You can see from the illustration it even had a "weeping chamber". You will also notice that of the two locations for bodies the upper one is longer. Upon examining this oddity, it was noticed that the longer one was "hurriedly lengthened". It is thought that the tomb was build for Joseph of Arimathea and that when he donated it for Christ body, he had to get it lengthened as Jesus must have been taller than he was. Of note here is the Shroud of Turin which indicated that Jesus would have been 5' 11" tall.
The tomb also has a trough for a large stone that would be rolled to cover the opening. The opening originally was smaller , as it was enlarged for the ease of public entry. The round stone is no longer in existence.
What do the archeologists think? My book "Eyewitness Travel" page 126 says that archeologists have concluded that the tombs are of a different configuration than in Jesus day and actually date back to the 9th - 7th century BC. Seems interesting that there is this quick dismissal on their part. Archeologists have been know to have been wrong or make conclusions base on personal biases! Hmmmm.
Regardless, pilgrims are coming regularly, and in droves. We had a very special time, sitting in the beautiful garden. Contemplating what Christ had done for us. We sang and worshiped together. The story of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection was read. It all fit, every part of the story clicking into place as we listened, seeing it all before our eyes. A sense of the reality of it all had a huge impact on me. Then we partook of the Lords Supper together. It was a very special moving experience.
Did it matter, the actual location? This may not be the location, it may be the exact place it all happened. It was enough that we were in Jerusalem. That we could feel His presence. That we were seeing what Jesus saw. He was so near.
For me it is a matter of the heart. That's what really matters!