PICTURES: Jesus' tomb opened for the first time after centuries

10:06 AM | 30 Oct, 2016
PICTURES: Jesus' tomb opened for the first time after centuries
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JERUSALEM - For the first time in hundreds of years, the marble stone above what Christians believe is Jesus' tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem was lifted as part of historic renovations at the holy site.

A marble slab covering the site, among the holiest in Christianity, was pulled back for three days as part of both restoration work and archaeological analysis

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A Christian pilgrim touches a pillar of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally believed to be the site of the crucifixion of Christ, in Jerusalem's Old City.

According to the Christian faith, after his crucifixion, Jesus' body was laid on a shelf that was placed within a cave, now covered by a structure called the Aedicule – a small chapel which will also undergo renovations alongside the tomb itself, which Christians hold to be empty following Jesus' resurrection.

The marble blocks were placed above the grave some 500 years ago. Underneath them, workers discovered another marble block marked with a cross and dating back to the 12 century crusaders, as well as building materials used at the time the upper marble slab was placed above the tomb.

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A picture shows the slabs of stone covering the Tomb of Jesus, where his body is believed to have been laid, after it was exposed for the first time in centuries.

Christian nuns watch as renovations of Jesus' tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's old city began earlier this year
Christian nuns watch as renovations of Jesus' tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's old city began earlier this year.

The Edicule and the tomb are currently being restored by scientists from the National Technical University of Athens. Using cotton swabs dipped into a solution of liquid soap and water, centuries-old layers of wax and carbon dioxide are scrubbed away by a restoration expert
The Edicule and the tomb are currently being restored by scientists from the National Technical University of Athens. Using cotton swabs dipped into a solution of liquid soap and water, centuries-old layers of wax and carbon dioxide are scrubbed away by a restoration expert