The Tomb of Jesus Christ, the most sacred site in Christianity, has reopened in Jerusalem after a painstaking nine-month restoration, The Guardian reports.
A team of about 50 experts from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) completed the $4 million renovation project. They used radar, laser scanners and drones in this meticulous restoration in Jerusalem’s Old City.
According to CNN, the specialists and masons worked mostly at night so as not to interrupt the devotees and pilgrims from praying and visiting the venerated site.
“We consolidated the holy rock. We opened the tomb of Christ in order to protect it from the infection of grout. Then we reinstalled the stone slabs after inserting joints of titanium,” said Antonia Moropoulou, chief scientific supervisor at NTUA.
Most of the repairs were concentrated to the Edicule, a small limestone and marble structure above the burial chamber where Jesus was believed to be interred. The project also included stabilizing the shrine with titanium bolts and mortar and cleaning the area which has been covered with layers of candle soot and pigeon droppings.
“What we’re looking at really is investigating how this whole site evolved over time, how this became the focal point of worship and veneration for more than two billion Christians today,” Kristin Romey, archaeology writer at National Geographic said.
Romey added, “This is the first time in modern memory that we have removed the marble from the tomb and are able to look down and investigate the original rock that, according to Christian tradition, the body of Jesus Christ was laid out on.”
The six denominations of the Christian faith which share custody of the church–Franciscan (Catholic), Coptic, Ethiopian, Syrian Orthodox, Armenian, and Greek Orthodox, the Palestinian Authority, and private individuals donated to this restoration project.
Theguardiancom. (2017). The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/21/jesus-tomb-to-be-unveiled-to-public-after-4m-restoration
Oren liebermann and lauren said-moorhouse, cnn. (2017). CNN. http://edition.cnn.com/2017/03/23/travel/jesus-tomb-restoration-complete/index.html