Tests Back Up Claims About Purported Tomb of Jesus
Old mortar at Church of the Holy Sepulchre goes back to AD 345
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2017 2:15 PM CST
A Greek priest stands inside the tomb thought to have held Jesus Christ's body in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre.   (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

(Newser) – Millions of people flock to Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre each year. Many believe it to house the tomb of Jesus Christ, though scientists have thus far been unable to date the tomb to the time when the Romans built a church around it. Now, however, a new series of tests "corroborates our historical accounts" as a National Geographic writer puts it to NBC News. It's easiest to understand the significance by understanding the history: Around AD 325, experts believe Roman Emperor Constantine the Great arrived in Jerusalem on the hunt for places linked to Jesus; his team identified the cave that they believed Jesus was buried in and built a shrine (known as the Edicule) to enclose the tomb and then a church around it.

That church was destroyed in 1009, recounts National Geographic. It was rebuilt, and all archaeological dating coincided with that rebuilding—proving it was at most about 1,000 years old. The tomb was opened for the first time in centuries in October 2016 to allow for the Edicule to be restored. A marble slab was discovered beneath marble cladding, and mortar samples taken from the slab dated to around AD 345. National Geographic's take: "While it is archaeologically impossible to say that the tomb is the burial site of an individual Jew known as Jesus of Nazareth ... [the] results put the original construction of today's tomb complex securely in the time of Constantine." (Scientists have issued a dire warning about the site.)

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