Under the watchful eye of National Geographic cameras, the exact location believed to be the tomb of Jesus Christ was opened for the first time since the year 1555 AD. The cameras were allowed in as part of a restoration project that is currently underway to repair centuries of wear and tear on the building and structure surrounding the tomb area.
According to Christian tradition and specifically, the Gospel of John, the body of Jesus was placed on a “burial bed” made of limestone and buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea after he was crucified and taken down from the cross.
“After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb (sepulcher) in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.” (John 19: 38-42)
The exposure of the burial bed is giving researchers an unprecedented opportunity to study the original surface of what is considered the most sacred site in Christianity.
The National Geographic Society, with the blessing of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the other religious communities that have a religious mandate to protect the tomb, formed a strategic alliance with the National Technical University of Athens for cultural heritage preservation.
Watch the clip from the upcoming National Geographic Explorer special:
COVER PHOTOGRAPH BY DUSAN VRANIC, AP FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC