Scientific tests have offered fascinating new insight into the tomb in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre venerated as the resting place of Jesus Christ.
Samples taken of the tomb Jesus is said to have been buried and rose from the dead are more than 1,700 years old, dating it back to the imperial Roman era, according to new test results that bring scientists a step closer to determining whether Jesus was actually laid to rest at the site.
National Geographic Society reported on Tuesday that experts in 2016 sampled mortar taken from between the original limestone surface of the tomb, and a marble slab that covers it.
Results provided by chief scientific supervisor, Antonia Moropoulou, who directed the Edicule restoration project, confirm that the spot pilgrims gather is the same tomb found by Constantine, Rome’s first Christian emperor in 4th century.
It is the first time such testing has been carried out at the site, located at what is now the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Violent attacks, fires and earthquakes have damaged both the tomb and the church over the centuries.
The church was completely demolished about a thousand years ago, but subsequently rebuilt.
They believe the marble dates to around 345 AD, which ties in to historical accounts that Roman emperor, Constantine, ordered the tomb be enshrined in a new church.
“When Emperor Constantine sent representatives of the church to Jerusalem to locate the tomb in around 325 AD, they were directed by people in the region to a Roman temple built 200 years previously. This was destroyed and the tomb was discovered beneath, carved into a limestone cave,”
“Constantine ordered that the interior of the tomb be revealed and the Edicule was built around it,”
This research was done by researchers from the National Technical University of Athens, who worked to restore the Edicule shrine, which houses the tomb, at Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Speaking to National Geographic, Antonia Moropoulou, said: ‘It is interesting how [these] mortars not only provide evidence for the earliest shrine on the site, but also confirm the historical construction sequence of the Edicule.’
National Geographic debuts a documentary on the topic, “The Secrets of Christ’s Tomb,” 3rd December.