Around 325, the representative of the Constantine (Rome’s first Christian emperor) arrived in Jerusalem. They located the tomb in Jerusalem. They were supposed to point to a Roman temple built some 200 years earlier. The Roman temple was demolished and the excavations beneath it revealed a tomb carved from a limestone cave. The top of the cave was sheared off to expose the interior of the tomb and the Edicule was built around it.
When the tomb was opened on October 26 2016 for the first time, scientists were surprised because they found an old broken marble slab carved with a cross. It was resting directly atop the original limestone slab of the burial bed, beneath the marble cladding. An archaeological study by an interdisciplinary team from the National Technical University of Athens, on the site last year found that the tomb had never been moved.
That team collected several samples of mortar from different locations within the Edicule at that time for dating. Their results were recently provided to National Geographic by Chief Scientific Supervisor Antonia Moropoulou, the directed the Edicule restoration project.
Now the results of scientific tests provided to National Geographic appear to confirm that the remains of a limestone cave enshrined within the church are remnants of the tomb located by the ancient Romans.
A feature of the tomb is a long shelf or burial bed, which according to tradition was where the body of Jesus Christ was laid out. In the tomb of wealthy people, such shelves from limestone caves were a common feature of first century Jerusalem Jews.
It is believed about the dome that it is the site of Jesus’ burial and resurrection. Its reference is found in the Bible as Calvary or Golgotha. According to the New Testament Jesus died either in AD 30 or 33.
Over the centuries Holy Sepulchre a Church in Jerusalem has remained under violent attacks, fires, and earthquakes. In 1009 it was totally destroyed and subsequently rebuilt. Mortar samples from remains of the southern wall were dated to 335 and 1570. They provide additional evidence for construction works from the Roman period and a documented sixteen century restoration. Mortar taken from the tomb entrance has been dated to the 11th century and is consistent with the reconstruction of the Edicule following its destruction in 1009.
“It is interesting how [these] mortars not only provide evidence for the earliest shrine on the site, but also confirm the historical construction sequence of the Edicule,” Moropoulou observes.