New Proof for Christ’s Tomb
Scientists who helped restore a shrine above the site believed to be the place where Christ was buried say testing of samples has dated the tomb to at least the fourth century.
The new information, published recently by National Geographic, is consistent with historical accounts that say Constantine, the first Roman emperor to stop persecuting Christians and who later became one, financed the protection of the tomb.
At some point, a marble slab was placed on top of the tomb.
In 2016, when a team from the National Technical University of Athens restored the shrine around the tomb, which was in danger of collapsing, they also placed a moisture barrier to protect the tomb. It hadn’t been opened in around 500 years, but the opportunity allowed the team to take samples.
“Mortar sampled from between the original limestone surface of the tomb and a marble slab that covers it has been dated to around AD345,” said National Geographic. Until the results were presented to the magazine by Professor Antonia Moropoulou, director of the restoration project, there was no scientific evidence to support that the tomb was older than 1000 years.
Science also Strongly Supports the Tomb
What’s harder to pin down scientifically is evidence that the person buried there was Jesus of Nazareth. However, a documentary on National Geographic’s TV channel shows scholars who say oral history strongly supports the possibility that the location of the shrine is where Jesus was buried, a place where Christians believe he returned to life.
“Why would people remember for several generations that this is the spot?” asked National Geographic archaeologist Dr Fred Hiebert.
In the absence of scientific data, you have to take into account village traditions that pointed to the site 300 or so years after the actual crucifixion of Christ, as the place where he was buried, he said.
“In the TV documentary, we know from scientific data that this is the exact spot where Constantine said, ‘X marks the spot,’” Dr Hiebert said, meaning that’s where Christ was buried.
“From an archaeological point of view, there’s no conclusive proof. There’s no DNA. There’s no sign that says it, there’s no artifact that says, ‘This is it’, as opposed to over here,” he said.
But Dr Hiebert, who witnessed the 2016 restoration of the shrine and was present for the opening of the tomb, added: “From an archaeological and historical point of view, I can document that was pretty much the place identified in the fourth century AD [as the tomb of Christ], and for me that’s as much personal satisfaction as I need.”—By Rhina Guidos, CNS