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Tomb believed to have held Jesus Christ much older than previously thought, researchers discover

Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem widely accepted as site of Christ's burial

Lydia Smith
Wednesday 29 November 2017 09:50
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The Edicule of the Tomb of Jesus at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem
The Edicule of the Tomb of Jesus at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem

The tomb in which Jesus Christ may have been buried dates back nearly 1,700 years, scientists have discovered.

Tests carried out on the remains of a limestone cave in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in Jerusalem, date it back to around 345 CE, National Geographic reported.

Previous evidence had only dated the tomb back 1,000 years, to the Crusader period.

Although it’s impossible to definitively say whether the tomb is the burial site of a Jew known as Jesus of Nazareth, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is largely accepted as the site of Christ's burial.

The research, carried out by the National Technical University of Athens, does not offer further evidence as to whether Jesus was actually buried in the tomb, but it is consistent with the historical belief that the ancient Romans constructed a monument at the site around 300 years after his death.

The New Testament says Jesus died either in 30 or 33 CE, but historical accounts suggest the Romans found and enshrined the tomb in 326 CE.

The dating puts the original construction of the tomb in the time of the rule of Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome, who began the empire’s transition to Christianity.

According to tradition, Constantine had the monument to Jesus constructed on what was believed to be his burial site.

A team of scientists has been carrying out restoration work on the site which involved opening and excavating the tomb, which has been sealed for centuries.

The scientists found the remains of a limestone bed that tradition states may have held the body of Jesus.

Using a technique called optically stimulated luminescence, the scientists were able to determine how recently the quartz sediment samples taken from the tomb’s mortar were exposed to light.

The results showed the bed was constructed around 345 AD, around the reign of Constantine.

“Obviously, that date is spot-on for whatever Constantine did,” archaeologist Martin Biddle told National Geographic.

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