Renovations at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem have uncovered what many believe to be the stone bench on which the body of Jesus Christ was laid after his death. USA Today reports that work began in June to renovate or restore certain areas of the church, including the Edicule, the structure that encloses Jesus' tomb. After removing a marble covering that's been in place since at least 1555, researchers found what they believe to be the actual stone slab on which Jesus' body was interred. Christian faith holds that three days after his burial, Jesus was resurrected, and when women returned to anoint Christ's remains, the body had vanished.
National Geographic was present to document the discovery for its show Explorer. Footage of the discovery will air in November on National Geographic Channel. Archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert says of the discovery: "It will be a long scientific analysis, but we will finally be able to see the original rock surface on which, according to tradition, the body of Christ was laid." The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of the most sacred sites in Christianity, and the custodians of the relic have long delayed altering the Edicule in any way. Concerns about the structural integrity of the chamber finally led to the approval of a $4 million restoration project in March 2016.