The Tomb of Jesus Christ is Proven Older than Experts Thought
The tomb where Jesus Christ is said to have been prepared for burial and then buried following his crucifixion has now been dated to the imperial Roman era around the time of Constantine. A recent study shows that it is more than 1,700 years old, going against the accepted belief.
The analysis of pieces of mortar taken from the original limestone burial bed and a marble slab that covers it date back to AD 345. This has led Kristen Romey, archaeology editor for National Geographic, to write , “We finally have scientific proof that this site, the tomb of Jesus Christ, one of the holiest sites in Christianity, has been unbroken for seventeen hundred years.”
NBC News describes the scientific testing carried out,
“To date the tomb, known as the Holy Edicule, conservators from the National Technical University of Athens looked at radioactive elements in the architectural glue that fit it together. They also used ground-penetrating radar and laser scanning.”
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Specifically, National Geographic writes , “mortar samples were independently dated at two separate labs using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), a technique that determines when quartz sediment was most recently exposed to light.”
National Geographic reports that the tomb said to belong to Jesus Christ was opened in October 2016, the first time in centuries. It is located in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City. As Romey said “It marks the site of the crucifixion, the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ according to Christian tradition.” Historical documents suggest that Romans identified this as Christ’s tomb around 326 AD.
The entrance of the tomb during the renovations. ( Corey Jaskolski / National Geographic )
Previous assessment of the architecture in and around the tomb led scholars to suggest it only came from the time of the Crusades. The burial bed, where Christ was said to have been anointed following his crucifixion, was covered with a marble cladding which further covered another marble slab. That older, broken marble slab incised with a cross which rests directly on the burial bed has now been called the “earliest Roman shrine on the site.”
The central part of a mosaic in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, on the outer wall of the Catholicon behind the Stone of Unction. The mosaic depicts Jesus being taken down from the cross, and his body being anointed prior to placing in the tomb. (M diet/ CC BY SA 3.0 )
Newsweek reports the church was totally demolished in 1009, but it was later rebuilt. However, that destruction raised a doubt in the minds of modern scholars – could it be the same location that was labeled Jesus Christ’s burial site by Romans who discovered and enshrined it almost 17 centuries ago?
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According to National Geographic , the results of the recent test say it is. Yet, they also note,
“While it is archaeologically impossible to say that the tomb is the burial site of an individual Jew known as Jesus of Nazareth, who according to New Testament accounts was crucified in Jerusalem in 30 or 33, new dating results put the original construction of today's tomb complex securely in the time of Constantine, Rome's first Christian emperor.”
Today reports that National Geographic will be showing a documentary related to this discovery, “The Secrets of Christ's Tomb," this Sunday. National Geographic also built a 3D replica of the tomb site in its Washington, D.C., USA museum.
National Geographic archaeologist-in-residence Fredrik Hiebert said he believes there may be more discovered from the tomb, “There is so much information in the data that was collected by the restorers during the conservation project. There are many, many stories still to be told.”
Top Image: The tomb of Jesus Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem. Source: The O.K Corral