The cross is one of the most famous and easily identified religious symbols in the world and is commonly carved into the handles of Welsh love spoons as a symbol of eternal love, marriage and devotion built on the foundations of faith.

However, whilst the cross is a universal symbol of modern Christianity, as well as having a more general connection to faith and devotion, how the cross became this symbol is more complex, as it invariably is linked to an ancient form of capital punishment.

Crucifixion is a form of execution that was used by several ancient civilisations, including the Ancient Greeks, the Macedonians, the Carthaginians and the Persians.

The earliest crucifixion that historians are aware of was of Polycrates circa 522 BC, as written by Herodotus. However, it appears that the Persian soldiers that killed the Tyrant of Samos may have killed him first, and then attached him to a cross or pole to send a message.

Herodotus later disclosed another example of the crucifixion of a Persian general circa 479 BC, which has been commented upon by historians as being an unusually barbaric form of punishment, but one that was done either to placate local emotions or to send a particularly strong message to others.

By the time of the Roman Empire, crucifixion had developed a reputation as a spectacle that was designed to be the most painful, lengthy and humiliating death someone could possibly suffer, often reserved for enemies of the state, and discussing crucifixion was often taboo in Roman society.

The first-ever depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was actually a piece of graffiti dating to around the 2nd Century AD. It shows a man worshipping a donkey on a cross and features text around it that was meant to mock an early Christian by the name of Alexamenos.

For the first three centuries of Christianity, the crucifixion was not seen as a symbol of sacrifice or love but as a graphic depiction of execution, but this would start to change by the 3rd century AD.

It would take until the discovery of the True Cross by Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine I for there to be a development of the depiction of the cross as a symbol of ultimate love and sacrifice, which has made it the symbol of all of Christianity.

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