Researchers have uncovered the burial site of Jesus Christ after almost 500 years.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was erected over the cave in which Jesus was buried. After opening the burial site, restoration specialists discovered what appears to be the original slab of stone where the Christian prophet was laid to rest. According to historians, the location of the tomb has remained the same throughout history, being covered in the 18th century by a structure known as the Edicule. The church has suffered many damages due to invasions and fires caused by rival worshipers.

Tomb of Jesus
Workers lift the top layer of Jesus Christ’s tomb in the Church of Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem. Image credit: Dusan Vranic/ National Geographic via AP.

Jesus was here

Fredrik Hiebert, an archaeologist for the National Geographic Society, commented that the investigation would take some time before they find any data that confirms the physical existence of Jesus. According to Hiebert, when the first marble layers that covered the tomb were being pulled back, the team could perceive the large amounts of fill material found below, meaning that it is possible that they will eventually reach where Jesus was laid.

“I’m absolutely amazed. My knees are shaking a little bit because I wasn’t expecting this,” stated Hiebert.

The place where Jesus was buried is enclosed by the Edicule, a small shrine that was reconstructed in the 19th century after being destroyed by an arson. Both the Edicule and its interior are now being restored as part of a project carried out by the National Technical University of Athens, led by Antonia Moropoulou.

Moropoulou suggests that the technology her team is using to analyze the cave’s inner structure will allow anyone to enter a virtual version of the tomb.

Because the tomb represents the holiest physical location for Christianity, scientists are taking unprecedented care for surveying the place where one of the most influential men in history was buried after his death when he was at least 30 years old.

Religious authorities witnessed the uncovering from different sects. Wax candles usually light the tomb, but now they light up the 3-by-5-feet uncovered bench carved out of marble. Currently, six Christian sects overlook the Holy Sepulcher, among which are the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church, the latter being the one in charge of the restoration process.

Patriarch Thephilos III watched the process and assured that even Muslims are attending the event, making it an episode filled with scientific and spiritual interest, discovering mutual respect added to what they will find concerning the burial of Jesus Christ.

At least three earthquakes have hit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the latest being in 1927. It was on 2015 when the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem decided to open the Edicule and perform an extensive restorative process, gathering millions of dollars in donations from world leaders, including the Jordanian monarch King Abdullah II.

Any scientific discovery concerning the physical existence of Jesus will serve to reunite more worshipers to the Holy Sepulcher, helping to promote the feeling of devotion in a world where religious conflict is still at large in the form of radical extremism.

Source: National Geographic