I've searched for quite a bit, but can't find anything on the site. Q&A 1179 ("Jesus' body literally broken") doesn't really answer my question. The medical accounts of the crucifixion that are posted on the site say the feet were pierced, as well as the wrists, and Psalms 22:16 says they pierced my hands and my feet. It possible to drive a large nail through both of Jesus' feet without breaking a bone? There are 26 bones in the human foot! Maybe they didn't nail his feet, but tied them instead? -- Kyle Chacon 

I did not know how best to answer your question, so I wrote to a friend who is a medical doctor. By the way, the 1968 discovery of the remains of a crucified man provide a graphic window into the gruesome world of crucifixion.

Response from William Thompson, M.D.:

I would click on www.podiatrychannel.com, and look under "anatomy." The nail(s) were most likely driven through the flat part of the foot above the toes.  There are 5 metatarsal bones lying parallel in this area, each 4- to 6-inches in length. They are held in place by ligaments and skin. A tapered nail would push the bones apart as it penetrated. It was tapered, I am sure, because it had to be driven into the wood as well as the flesh. The bones are round and would move to the side, stretching or tearing the ligaments, as the nail passed through the foot. The space between the big toe and the toe next to it would be a good area to place the nail rather easily. It has a natural indention that can be felt. If the nail was placed higher, there are a number of bones that are essentially round and would do the same.

Another note is to consider is that bones have a lot of nerve fibers to the periostium, which is the thin outer covering of the bone. These are very sensitive and result in a lot of pain when traumatized (such as striking your shin bone on a chair). It is frightening to imagine the degree of pain this caused.  I am sure the Romans designed the most brutal crucifixion with nails rather than ropes for this very reason.