One of the holiest places in the world is what is thought to be the last resting place of Jesus Christ, aptly called the Tomb of Jesus. Each year, millions of Christians flock to its location which is part of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. However, scientists had recently issued a warning that the Tomb of Jesus is in danger of experiencing something catastrophic.
A Catastrophic Collapse
The Tomb of Jesus has recently undergone an expensive restoration amounting to $4 million, which was just completed earlier this week. But despite this, National Geographic reported that a scientific team from the National Technical University of Athens has warned that there is a “very real risk” of a collapse. Antonia Moropoulou, the chief scientific supervisor of the NTUA said.
“When it fails, the failure will not be a slow process, but catastrophic.”
The Edicule, which is the shrine that encloses the area where many of the faithful believe to have housed Jesus’ body before he was resurrected, were discovered by the scientists to have been built on an unstable foundation. During the recent restoration of the Tomb of Jesus, it was found out that the foundation was made mostly of crumbled ruins of earlier structures and is atop an extensive network of tunnels and channels.
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Historical Layers Within the Tomb of Jesus
The most recent report by NTUA gave National Geographic a better understanding on the catastrophic collapse that might happen on the Tomb of Jesus. It was revealed that the site’s rich history is the most likely culprit.
According to archaeologists, the site could have been a limestone quarry 2000 years ago. It was then turned into a Jewish upper-class burial site. The theory was furthered made stronger when several tombs discovered within the grounds of the church.
There is also a Roman temple built on the site during the second century that was burned down by Constantine. He had, later on, built another shrine around the tomb, which also got destroyed during the invasion of the Persians in the seventh century. It was again destroyed in 1009 and was rebuilt again during the 11th century.
The Edicule was repeatedly altered and restored between the 16th and 19th century. The current one encloses many of the earlier construction made on the site.
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A Network of Tunnels
Further into the report, it was mentioned that the scientific team from NTUA used high-tech equipment to see portions of the Edicule that are quite hard to reach. It was revealed that some parts of the Tomb of Jesus is actually sitting on quarried bedrock. Years of moisture from drainage channels also caused the foundation to crumble.
The high-tech cameras also revealed that the Tomb of Jesus houses a network of tunnels that has baffled the scientists. They were also disturbed to find out that the area where the faithful lines up to go inside the tomb sits on top of an unsupported concrete slab.
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The Former Glory of the Tomb of Jesus
The team who was in charge of the recent restoration was able to fix the walls of the Edicule. They were successful in restoring the Tomb of Jesus’ former glory and made it stronger by strengthening the columns and installing a ventilation system.
All the damages from the soot and smoke from centuries of candles and pilgrimage are now gone. However, Fox News reported that the discovery of a possible catastrophic event prompted the scientists to seek for additional restoration.
The project will cost around $6.5 million. It entails the repair of the rotting foundation, the installation of a new drainage system, and will take another year to finish. It might be an expensive restoration, but the scientists believe that it is necessary to prevent a catastrophic event inside the Tomb of Jesus.
[Featured Image by Sebastian Scheiner/AP Images]