The bible says that Jesus Christ died on the cross, resurrected after 3 days and went to heaven. Though this statement has been preached all over the world, skeptics are still debating whether the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem was really the place where that contains the tomb where Jesus Christ laid for three days.
The said tomb has been closed in marble since 1555 or longer against those pilgrims who are stealing the holy relics inside. The church had been destroyed and rebuilt for many times centuries after centuries but people are still questioning the same issue, “What’s inside of the tomb.”
After 500 years, the tomb was opened for the first time. The world will now see what they wanted to see and answer all the questions they keep asking.
The tom contained a limestone shelf they thought where the body of Christ was laid. Researchers also discovered for the first time a second grey marble slab inside. The marble slab was even engraved with a cross and they believed that it was carved in the 12th century.
Archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert of National Geographic said:
“The most amazing thing for me was when we removed the first layer of dust and found a second piece of marble.”
“This one was grey, not creamy white like the exterior, and right in the middle of it was a beautifully inscribed cross. We had no idea that was there.
“The shrine has been destroyed many times by fire, earthquakes, and invasions over the centuries. We didn’t really know if they had built it in exactly the same place every time.
“But this seems to be visible proof that the spot the pilgrims worship today really is the same tomb the Roman Emperor Constantine found in the 4th century and the Crusaders revered. It’s amazing.
“When we realized what we had found my knees were shaking a little bit.”
The tomb was opened with the presence of the leaders from the Greek and Armenian Orthodox churches and the Franciscan monks.
“They let the patriarchs of the three churches go in first. They came out with big smiles on their face. Then the monks went in and they were all smiling,” Fredrik said.
“We were all getting really curious. Then we went in, looked into the tomb, and saw a lot of rubble. So it wasn’t empty, even though there were no artifacts or bones,” he added.
The debate about the reopening of the tomb for repairs started in the year 1959 but because the agreed that the decision to reopen it is a “status quo committee” of the three religious leaders, they decided to open it in 2016.
Fredrik says: “Everything has to be approved by the committee, so even changing a candle takes a long time.
“There is a ladder by the main entrance to the church that hasn’t moved in 240 years and they still haven’t reached a decision. It’s called the immovable ladder. So the fact we were finally allowed to carry out this work is a triumph of negotiation.”
The team only got three days to clean and explore because the reopening of the tomb attracted thousands upon thousands of tourists and pilgrims every single day.
To gather and document as much information as they can, the team used a ground penetrating radar and thermographic scanners for them to be able to record. It took 35 conservation experts that took 60 hours to remove the dirt, documenting every step. Hours before the resealing of the tomb, they found a limestone in the burial bed.
Fredrick says: “Often in archeology, the eureka moment doesn’t happen in the field.
“It comes when you get home and examine all the data you’ve collected. Who knows what that will tell us.
“Without bones or artifacts [artifacts] we’ll never be able to say for sure this was the tomb of Christ.
“That is a matter of faith. It always has been and it probably always will be.”
The team of researchers gathered so much data and it takes months for them to analyze everything that will be enough to create a virtual reconstruction of the tomb everyone could see.