(See also wiki article Golgotha
GOLGOTHA (Mt.27.33, Mk.15.22, Jn.19.17, from the Aramaic Gulgulta. In Lk.23.33 'the place called Kranion' (RSV 'the skull,' AV 'Calvary,' based on the Vulgate's locus calvariae)). - The situation was evidently outside the city (He.13.12), but near it (Jn.19.20); it was a site visible from a distance (Mk.15.40, Lk.23.49), and was probably near a high road (Mt.27.39).
Two reasons may be advanced for the name. (1) That it was a place where skulls were to be found, perhaps a place of public execution. (2) That the 'hill' was skull-shaped. This is a popular modern view. Against it may be urged that there is no evidence that Golgotha was a hill at all, for it is referred to merely as a 'place.'
Of the many proposed sites for Golgotha two have received the most attention: the traditional site and the ez-Zahira hill or 'Gordon's Calvary,' strongly urged by General C. G. Gordon in 1883, following the theory of Thenius (1842).
The traditional site included in the Church of the Sepulchre and in close proximity to the tomb itself has a continuous tradition attaching to it from the days of Constantine. In favour of this site it may be argued that it is unlikely that all tradition of a spot so important in the eyes of Christians should have been lost, even allowing all consideration for the vicissitudes that the city passed through between the Crucifixion and the days of Constantine.
The topographical difficulties are dealt with in the discussion of the site of the second wall [see JERUSALEM, 6], but it may safely be said that investigations have certainly tended in recent years to reduce them. With regard to the ez-Zahira hill outside the Damascus gate, its claims are based upon the four presuppositions that Golgotha was shaped like a skull, that the present skull-shaped hill had such an appearance at the time of the Crucifixion, that the ancient road and wall ran as they do to-day, and that the Crucifixion was near the Jewish 'place of stoning' (which some modern Jews, without a basis in any tradition, have held to be situated here). All these hypotheses are extremely doubtful. [Article: Dictionary of the Bible, J.Hastings, 2nd Ed., T&T.Clark, 1963 - E.W.G.M. - E.G.K.]