The site of the crucifixion of Jesus in Jerusalem; the tomb in which Jesus was buried was apparently nearby (see John 19.41). The name is Aramaic, and means “the skull,” a translation given after the Aramaic in Matthew 27.33, Mark 15.22, and John 19.17. Luke 23.33 gives only the Greek translation. In the Vulgate a Latin word for “skull,” calvaria, is used; this is the source of the English word “Calvary,” used in the KJV of Luke 23.33. The origin of the name Golgotha is obscure; suggestions include its location in a cemetery and its being a site for executions. The great biblical scholar Origen (third century CE) thought it was the burial place of Adam; following this view, artists have frequently placed a skull at the base of the cross in representations of the crucifixion.

The precise location of Golgotha and of the tomb of Jesus are not certain, but the most likely candidate is the present site of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Map 9), though traditions identifying it as the place of Jesus' death and burial are apparently no earlier than the fourth century CE.

Michael D. Coogan