Scientists make exciting discovery at the site of tomb believed to hold Jesus Christ
Over the years, we've uncovered a lot of artifacts that are said to be linked somehow to Jesus Christ. Amongst them, there are a number of wood fragments that are said to have come from 'the true cross' (but their origin has been tricky to verify), the Shroud of Turin, which is said to bear an impression of Christ's face (though it actually dates back to the Middle Ages), and The Veil of Veronica, which was apparently used to wipe the sweat from Jesus' brow when he carried the cross (but, again, its validity is dubious).
As well as these physical relics, there are also a few locations that are said to have been visited or occupied by Christ at some point during his time on Earth. One of them is a limestone cave in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, located in Jerusalem, which was previously dated to around 1,000 years ago.
However, recent tests suggest that the cave is actually much older than we originally thought.
A group of researchers from the National Technical University of Athens visited the site - which is believed to have been used to hold Jesus' body in the three days before he rose from the dead - and used new technology in order to more precisely gauge the tomb's date of origin. By using a scientific technique called "optically stimulated luminescence", they were able to analyze various quartz samples from the tomb in order to determine how recently they had been exposed to light.
By doing this, the scientists found that the cave is probably closer to 1700 years old. This new dating means that the construction of the tomb aligns with the rule of Constantine, the first Christian ruler of Rome.
It was Constantine who actually introduced Christianity to Rome on a large scale, and implemented a change in rule which would eventually lead to a more widespread belief in the Christian religion. According to historical records, it was this emperor who elected to have a monument to Jesus constructed on his burial site - and so he chose the limestone cave.
However, this still puts the tomb's enshrinement at around 300 years after the time Jesus supposedly died, meaning that Constantine most likely had no verification that the cave was ever used to store his body. It also suggests that the limestone bed was never actually used to rest Christ's body on, as it was placed in the tomb nearly three centuries after he was crucified.
Nevertheless, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is widely accepted as the site of Christ's burial.
Whether or not this tomb was actually used to house Christ's body after the crucifixion is still unknown, but this new evidence does show that there are many truths we have yet to uncover. And, even if you're not religious, it's still fascinating to discover little pieces of history that were previously lost to us. Who knows what else we might find in the years still to come.