The Tomb at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to have held the body of Jesus Christ, has been opened to public after restoration works.
In a good news to the Christian community world over, a team of scientists and restorers has completed nine months of work on the tomb Jesus Christ.
The tomb is located in Jerusalem’s Old City and the work focused on the small structure above the burial place of Christ, known as the Edicule.
Christians believe Jesus’s body was buried at what became the grounds of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The Edicule has now been reinforced with titanium bolts and mortar. It is expected to stand strong as members of the public visit the holy site.
Bonnie Burnham from the World Monuments Fund said: “If the intervention hadn’t happened now, there is a very great risk that there could have been a collapse.”
Antonia Moropoulou, a professor at the National Technical University of Athens, said the structure needed reinforcement and conservation, including work on drainage network for rainwater and sewage.
The Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic denominations share custody of the church, where tensions often run high over control of its various sectors.
Disputes between the denominations had held up restoration work for more than 200 years.
But work was forced to begin last year after the church was deemed unsafe by Israeli authorities, who have controlled East Jerusalem since its capture in the 1967 Middle East war.
The tomb has now been opened to members of the public.
Media reports said each denomination had contributed towards the project and Jordan’s King Abdullah also made a personal donation, with the work costing around £2.65 million.
The shrine inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem has been the subject of debate for hundreds of years, as to whether it is indeed the site where the Son of God was entombed following his crucifixion and from where he miraculously rose three days later.
But during the restoration, more than 500 years since it was last sealed in 1550, the lid of the tomb was reopened.
Finding little but filling material, it seemed at first that the tomb – ravaged over the years by fire, earthquakes and raids – may not be the site of Christianty’s greatest miracle after all.
But on the final night of investigation, with just hours to go before the tomb was resealed, archaeologists found a marble slab, engraved with a cross.
Underneath they discovered a limestone burial bed – of similar description to the one where Christ’s body is believed to have been placed.
Fredrik Hiebert, National Geographic’s archeologist-in-residence, said: “We can’t say 100 per cent, but it appears to be visible proof that the location of the tomb has not shifted through time, something that scientists and historians have wondered for decades.
“I’m absolutely amazed. My knees were shaking a little bit because I wasn’t expecting this,” said Hiebert.
While it is archaeologically impossible to say that the tomb recently uncovered is the burial site of an individual Jew known as Jesus of Nazareth, there is indirect evidence to suggest that the identification of the site by representatives of the Roman emperor Constantine some 300 years later may be a reasonable one.
The earliest accounts of Jesus’ burial come from the Canonical Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament, which are believed to have been composed decades after Christ’s crucifixion around A.D. 30. While there are variations in the details, the accounts consistently describe how Christ was buried in a rock-cut tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy Jewish follower of Jesus.