The cover to the tomb of Jesus Christ has finally risen.
This week, for the first time in centuries, restorers working in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Israel, removed the stone slab that is believed to cover the burial place of Jesus Christ.
National Geographic first broke the news.
Fredrik Hiebert, archaeologist-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, a partner in the restoration project, spoke to RealClearLifeabout the process in an exclusive interview.
“It’s really unbelievable,” said Hiebert. “It’s the slab in the tomb in the church in Jerusalem in the epicenter of Christianity and Western Civilization, basically. I’ve been involved in a lot of archaeological projects in my career, but this has to be one of the coolest. It ranks right up there.”
The tomb had been covered by a marble slab since at least 1555 A.D., and most likely centuries earlier.
Along with the church, the tomb is a major Christian pilgrimage destination. According to Christian tradition, the body of Jesus Christ was lain on a burial bed hewn from the inside of a limestone cave following his crucifixion by the Romans in 30 A.D. Christ was resurrected after death, according to Christian belief, and women who came to anoint his body three days after the burial reported that no remains were present.
So what is the marble slab like? Hiebert said it’s about six feet by three feet, and weighs several hundred pounds.
“It’s a beautiful piece of marble,” Hiebert told RealClearLife. “Kind of a creamy white. This type of marble is used on a daily basis here. It has that same attractive patina.”
The burial is now enclosed by a small structure known as the Edicule, which was last reconstructed between 1808-10 after being destroyed in a fire. The Edicule and the tomb are currently undergoing restoration by a team of scientists from the National Technical University of Athens.
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