The tomb of Christ is preserved in its original form, studies have shown in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Archaeologists who work in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, discovered under two marble slabs, and a layer of stone fragments intact bed of limestone, which, as expected, was the body of the crucified Jesus of Nazareth. Scientists admit that they have no evidence that this was the tomb of the buried Christ, but, according to them, there is no reason to believe that it is not.
The first 60 hours, which the researchers spent in the study of the great Christian shrines, was incredibly fruitful. Archaeologists were able to see the stone on which lay the body of the crucified Christ and to receive the first data about it.
Recall, scientists had to lift a marble slab set in the erected over the burial place of Jesus Christ. This plate was said to have been established in 1555 and was supposed to protect the bed of the tomb from the overly zealous pilgrims who might try to break off pieces of the Shrine to take home with them.
According to National Geographic, after removal of the layer of stone fragments was discovered a marble slab carved on its surface a cross. And on the night of October 28, just hours before the moment when the tomb had to be sealed again, before archaeologists brought intact a bed of limestone.
“I am absolutely appalled. Even my knees are trembling a bit because I wasn’t expecting it. We can’t say 100%, but it appears to be, visible proof that the location of the tomb was set exactly – that’s what historians and scientists thought decades”, – told reporters the archeologist Fredrick hibert.
In addition, the researchers were able to verify that Edicule built around a cave with limestone walls, that is, the Church literally surrounds the original tomb.
“This Sepulchre, which is revered for many decades. And only now we can actually see it,” says chief scientific officer of the expedition, Professor Anthony Moropoulou, which oversees the restoration work at the Shrine.
As noted by National Geographic, archaeologically it is impossible to prove that discovered in the Sepulchre tomb was indeed the burial place of the Jewish citizen, known as Jesus of Nazareth, however, there is reason to believe that 300 years after the gospel events to the Queen Helena, mother of Roman Emperor Constantine, managed to correctly identify the location of the Shrine.
The earliest stories about the burial of Jesus recorded in the canonical Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament were composed several decades after the crucifixion of Christ. It is known that Christ was buried in a rock tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy follower of Jesus.
Archaeologists have identified more than thousands of such rocky tombs in the Jerusalem area, like the archaeologist Jody Magness. Each of these family tombs consisted of one or several burial chambers with long niches cut into the walls to accommodate separate bodies.
“All of this is consistent with our knowledge about how rich Jews buried their dead in the time of Jesus. This is not direct evidence that what is described in the Bible are historical events. But the way they are described, indicates that the evangelists were familiar with this tradition and these burial customs,” says Magness.
Jewish tradition forbids burial within the city walls, and in the Gospels indicates that Jesus was buried outside Jerusalem, near the site of his crucifixion at Calvary. A few years after this happened, the walls of Jerusalem were expanded, and Calvary together with his closest tombs were in the city limits.
When the representatives of Emperor Constantine arrived in Jerusalem about 325 years to find the tomb of Christ, they drew attention to the temple built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian 200 years before that. Historical sources showed that this temple was built over the tomb of revered Christians.
According to the testimony of Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, the Roman temple was destroyed, and the excavations under its Foundation was discovered the tomb. The upper part of the cave was cut away to provide access to the burial chamber, and the Church was built around the walls of the tomb. This Church was completely destroyed in 1009 by Muslims and rebuilt in the middle of XI century by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX Monomakh.
During the excavations, which were conducted inside the Holy Sepulchre during the XX century, was discovered the alleged fragments of the temple of Hadrian and the walls of the Church in the days of Emperor Constantine. Archaeologists documented an ancient limestone quarry and at least half a dozen other rock tombs, some of which can be seen today. The presence of other burials of the same period is extremely important, said Magness. They point to the fact that the area where the Edicule, in the time of Jesus was the Jewish cemetery was located outside the walls of Jerusalem.
“We can’t be absolutely sure that the place is under the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the burial place of Jesus, but we have no reason to reject its authenticity,” said Dan Bahat, former chief archaeologist of Jerusalem.
The last few days, the researchers worked to return to the place of marble slabs and conservation of the tomb, designed for many centuries and even millennia. “Our actions are intended to preserve the architecture of the buildings forever,” says Moropoulou. Before the tomb was re-sealed, scientists have found and fixed a huge amount of data about her.
Archaeologist Martin Biddle, who published his classical monograph on the history of the Shrine in 1999, believes that the only way that will allow you to understand why the burial place of Christ is this tomb and not others, is to check the signs and inscriptions that have survived on the funeral bed and the walls of the cave.
“We know that there are at least half a dozen other rock tombs under other parts of the temple. So why is Bishop Eusebius identified this tomb as the tomb of Christ? He did not explain, and we don’t know. I don’t think Eusebius was wrong, after all he was a very good scientist, so probably he had some evidence,” says Beadle.
Meanwhile, a team from the National technical University of Athens, continues the restoration of the Shrine. Archaeologists will strengthen the Foundation of the temple, to cleanse and document every inch of the sanctuary, together with the collection of data will take another five months.
Recall that the word “Edicule” comes from a Greek word koubouklion, which is translated as “bedchamber”. She looks like a chapel from the yellow-pink marble with an area of six by eight metres. It was erected over the Holy Sepulchre and the so-called chapel of the angel, sitting on the stone rolled away from the door of the sepulchre, the angel Gabriel announcing Christ’s resurrection to the myrrh-bearers. For believers this is a particularly Holy place.
The current Edicule – the third erected in the temple of the Resurrection chapel. The first was built in the year 335 the intention of the Emperor Constantine the Great. Her sculpture, made of ivory, is kept today in a Museum in Munich.
In 1009 the first Edicule was destroyed by the Muslims. By the middle of the XI century, the Shrine was rebuilt again by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX Monomakh. Franciscan Boniface Rogutsky in 1555 rebuilt the chapel, he laid on the stone bed of the skid plate. In 1808, the second Edicule together with other buildings of the temple were destroyed by fire. The author of the current chapels became a Greek architect Nicholas Komninos. She appeared in 1810 and has survived without restoration. It is believed that the chapel was by the standards, removed from copies of the Jerusalem Shrine, erected by Patriarch Nikon in the resurrection monastery of New Jerusalem.
We add that the responsibility for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is divided between six denominations – the Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian, Coptic, Syrian and Ethiopian, each of which is highlighted in their own sections and hours for prayers. To avoid misunderstandings, the parties involved in the distribution of property and services comply with historically established status quo, defined by the documents of the XVIII-XIX centuries. Legal, property and territorial boundaries assigned to each of the denominations, strictly specified. For example, no icon, no one lamp can not be added or removed without mutual consent.