Scientists may have found one of the oldest Christian churches in the world

Scientists may have found one of the oldest Christian churches in the world

Scientists may have found one of the most ancient Christian churches in the world by using muon x-rays to scan a mystical subterranean building on the coast of the Caspian Sea in the ancient Russian city of Derbent. Now, thanks to the clever use of scanning technology, we might finally know what the building is.

The fortress of Naryn-Kala in Derbent, Russia, dates back to around A.D. 300

The technology known as the muon X-ray is used by researchers to track the charged subatomic particles muons, generated when cosmic rays interact with Earth’s atmosphere.

As they pass through space, nuclear emulsion plates are used as detectors to ‘catch’ the particles and develop an image of where the muons passed through, and where they were absorbed or deflected. (This same method has been used on pyramids in Egypt before.)

By using this method to meticulously scan the subterranean structure, the team arrived at a suggestion it was once a vast church.

In fact, it could be the oldest church in Russia, dating from around 300 CE.

Until now, archaeologists had been split over whether this is the site of a church, a reservoir or water tank, or perhaps a Zoroastrian fire temple. Now, thanks to the new measurements, it seems that the first hypothesis has taken the lead in terms of probability.

The view from above ground.

“The unusual building, in which we have put our detectors, has the shape of a cross, oriented strictly to the sides of the world,” says physicist Natalia Polukhina, from the National University of Science and Technology (MISIS) in Russia.

“One side is two metres [six-and-a-half feet] longer than the others.”

Scientists can’t excavate what lies beneath the Naryn-Kala fortress because it has UNESCO cultural heritage site status (only a small fragment of its dome is above ground). Instead, they lowered detectors into the depths of the structure and spent four months scanning the internal dimensions.

The building appears to be around 11 metres (36 feet) high, 15 metres (nearly 50 feet) from north to south, and 13.4 metres (nearly 44 feet) from east to west. The dome is located at the centre of the cruciform design.

While the site has been referred to as a water tank – and was probably used for that purpose in the 17th and 18th centuries – the differences between this and another nearby reservoir suggest the building wasn’t originally used for storing water.

“It seems very strange to me to interpret this building as a water tank,” says Polukhina. “In the same fortress of Naryn-Kala, there is an equal underground structure of 10 metres [nearly 33 feet] depth, and it really is a tank. This is just a rectangular building.”

“As the archaeologists who began excavations say, during construction, the building was entirely on the surface and it stands on the highest point of the Naryn-Kala. What is the sense to put the tank on the surface, and even on the highest mountain?”

How the structure is thought to look.

It’s thought that the building was buried by the Sasanian Persian Empire after it took control of Derbent around 700 CE – the area is part of a crucial trade route between Europe and the Middle East and has always been important strategically.

The scan also revealed an unusual build-up of muons in the western wing, perhaps indicating particular architectural features that have been preserved and could eventually be scanned in detail using a similar non-invasive approach.

Now the researchers want to continue their work with further scans to produce a full-size image of what’s buried under the ground at the Naryn-Kala fortress.

Before too long we might be able to say for certain what this ancient structure was originally built for.

“It is strange,” says Polukhina. “Currently, there are more questions than answers.”

Mysterious Secret Tunnel Discovered Under Ancient Pyramid in Mexico

Mysterious Secret Tunnel Discovered Under Ancient Pyramid in Mexico

As we use advanced archeological techniques, we appear to create incredible findings at various ancient locations, like Teotihuacan in Mexico.

Recently, in Teotihuacán’s ancient town northeast of Mexico City, archeologists have discovered a secret tunnel under the famous Moon Pyramid.

Hidden for ages, the underground tunnel, as archeologists claim, could represent the underworld as a component of the ancient system of belief in the Pre-Colombian civilization that once thrived here. The Moon Pyramid is the second largest structure seen in Teotihuacán.

The site was most certainly built 2,000 years ago, by a civilization that pre-dates the Aztecs who were later occupants of Teotihuacán.

According to National Geographic, the tunnel extends in length from the central square, known as Plaza de la Luna, and goes toward the nearby pyramid. It is at a depth of about 33 feet and is similar to a few other tunnels that had been discovered in the past.

The Pyramid of the Moon

This newest discovery was made with the help of a method known as electrical resistivity tomography that is able to generate subterranean imagery.

A team of archaeologists from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History employed the method as part of their conservation effort concerning the central square at the ancient location. Nobody has yet been able to access the tunnel and see what’s hidden inside.

Gomes Believe that tunnel is one of the most important discoveries in the history of Mexico.
Gomes Believe that tunnel is one of the most important discoveries in the history of Mexico.

The Pyramid of the Moon could have been used for human sacrifice and a number of other rituals–claims that are based on studies of human remains located at burial sites in the complex.

As the purpose of the tunnel cannot be completely clear at the moment, it is up to further research to learn more details and recover artifacts.

The history of the ancient city of Teotihuacán is complex, but most certainly it was one of the largest cities in the Americas of pre-Columbian times, believed to have housed at least 125,000 people.

The Pyramid of the Moon, as the second-largest pyramid after the Pyramid of the Sun, imitates the contours of the mountain Cerro Gordo, that is just north of the site.

“Tenan” is one more name used for the site by some people, which in Nahuatl (Aztec) means “Mother of protective stone.” Estimates suggest the massive structure was built sometime before 200 AD, making it older than its bigger counterpart, the Pyramid of the Sun.

Pyramids of the Sun and Moon on the Avenue of the Dead, Teotihuacan ancient historic cultural city, old ruins of Aztec civilization, Mexico, North America

A slope found on the front of the pyramid’s staircase enables access to the Avenue of the Dead, a platform situated on the top of the pyramid.

This place was used to worship the Great Goddess of Teotihuacan, the deity of water, fertility, the Earth, and also creation itself. The platform, as well as a prominent sculpture unearthed at the bottom of the pyramid, are most certainly dedicated to this major deity.

The Plaza of the Moon, from where the newly uncovered tunnel extends towards the pyramid, is just opposite the altar of the Great Goddess. Its structure is composed of a central altar, plus a formation designated the “Teotihuacan Cross.”

Aerial view of the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon in Teotihuacan, México.

There is no doubt that an intelligent construction system was employed to build not only the monumental bases of the two great pyramids but also the entire city.

While evidence suggests the pyramids have undergone several intricate phases of construction, the entire city of Teotihuacán has signs that it was very carefully planned as well, incorporating its main axis and a great palace surrounded by 15 monumental pyramids in the design.

Tombs found in the location have contained human skeletons, but also a variety of animal bones, obsidian blades, pieces of jewelry and a number of other types of offerings. Despite all finds so far, many questions concerning Teotihuacán’s history and culture still need to be answered.

The mystery of the Octavius: An 18th-century ghost ship was discovered with the captain’s body found frozen at his desk, still holding his pen

The mystery of the Octavius: An 18th-century ghost ship was discovered with the captain’s body found frozen at his desk, still holding his pen

The world has an array of tales, mysteries, and legends and we are traveling on a different dimension when reading or listening to them. Those stories are thoughtful for everyone who loves a good mystery, and the story about the ship Octavius is very fascinating.

There are a great number of tales in maritime tradition, about ghost ships sailing with the world’s ghostly crew and destined never to make port.

It’s the story of a mysterious disappearance, and a captain, a frozen body, still seated behind his desk and a crew that suffered the same fate. Some people say that this is not a simple legend.

It was October 11, 1775, when the whaler ship Herald stumbled upon a rather strange looking schooner. The crew of Herald thought it probably that the badly weather-beaten boat was drifting, and decided to give it a closer inspection.

On nearing the ship, the crew saw that the ship was weather-beaten–the sails were tattered and torn and hanging limply on the masts. They boarded the drifting Octavius, and there they discovered the reason why there was no activity on deck!

But to understand, we must travel back to 1761, when the journey for Octavius began, fourteen years before she was found by the Herald. Leaving the port of London, the 28 sailors began their journey towards China….

This was a majestic sailing ship, that left port with a full crew, and they arrived safely in China, where unloaded their cargo.

The weather was unusually warm, and it seems that the captain decided to sail home via the Northwest Passage, travel that at the time had not been accomplished. This was the last that anyone heard of the vessel, her crew, or her cargo. And so, Octavius was declared lost.

Fast forward to 1775, when Herald’s crew makes it’s way slowly through the strange, creepy and quiet ship. Below deck, they discovered the 28 sailors, frozen stiff, motionless and blue. And when they reached the Captain’s office, they found him behind his desk, also frozen.

The inkwell and other everyday items were still in their place on the desk. Turning around, they saw a woman wrapped in a blanket on the bunk, frozen to death, along with the body of a young boy.

According to the legend, the captain was still holding his pen as if he was frozen instantly. Herald’s crew reported that the whole crew had the same characteristic, and they were like models in a waxworks museum.

When the Octavius began its journey in 1761, the Captain carefully wrote the date in his logbook, a document that was found on his desk 14 years later (but the last entry in it was from 1762).

The thirteen years between 1762 and 1775 were nowhere to be found! With the realization that they are on board a ghost ship, the men left Octavius and joined the rest of their crew back on board the Herald. According to those who believe that this story is real, it was the Captain’s fault that they all froze to death.

According to this version of the story, the captain of Octavius decided to do a mission impossible: go through the notorious Northwest Passage, and it was this decision that killed all people on board. But, of course, this story was born almost 250 years ago and all traces of it, in reality, are lost over.

Two and a half centuries is a long period, in which stories change and are embellished with other, different details. According to one version, the Octavius got stuck into the ice for two and a half months, and it wasn’t long before they ran out of supplies and froze to death.

But why the captain was still behind his desk with a pen in hand? Furthermore, according to the legend, Octavius did manage to get through the Northwest Passage, but only when was already a ghost ship. The ship’s last recorded position was 75N 160W, which placed the Octavius 250 miles north of Barrow, Alaska.

It took more than a century before another attempt to crossing this passage was made with a ship, but this time successfully. And for hundreds of years, this story survived until became a legend, drifting, just like Octavius and no one knows what really happened, but especially, what is the reason that can freeze a man half-way through his writing, still with the pen in hand!

The crew of the Herald were frightened of the Octavius and feared that it was cursed, so they simply left it adrift. To this day, it has never been sighted again.

Ancient footprints show Neanderthals may have been taller than thought

Ancient footprints show Neanderthals may have been taller than thought

We know it as archeologists have seen hundreds of Neanderthals footprints in France — most of them laid by children. They walked and maybe played along the beach in the prehistoric world ;

Do we discover that Neanderthals were more like modern humans than previously thought by following their footsteps?  Have we been underestimated our ancient cousins?

The 257 footprints from Neanderthal found by archaeologists from Le Rozel, on the coast of northwest France, Manche, Normandy, and what is surprising to the scientists is that the majority of the prints are made by children.

The excavation of a footprint on the Le Rozel archeological site

In 1856, in a limestone quarry in the Neander Valley near Düsseldorf, Germany, a set of ancient bones were discovered including an oval-shaped skull with a low, receding forehead and distinct brow ridges.

Scientists initially believed belonged to a deformed human but after several weeks the penny dropped that they had discovered an early human ancestor and that species was named  Homo neanderthalensis.

Neanderthal ancestors left Africa before modern humans, as far back as 500,000 years ago, and they were in Europe when our ancestors walked the same journey about 70,000 years ago.

It is thought Neanderthals eventually disappeared around 40,000 years ago. But now, archaeologists in Le Rozel, on the coast of northwest France, in the department of Manche, Normandy, have discovered 257 footprints from Neanderthals and what surprises the scientists is that most of the prints were made by children.

Footprints of A Lost Species

This year, a scientific paper was published in Quaternary Science Reviews explaining that previous to Le Rozel, only one set of 62,000-year-old Neanderthal footprints had ever been found, in Romania.

Then, in 2018, an array of fossilized footprints was discovered in an ancient sand dune in Gibraltar, of the Iberian Peninsula, which was thought to have been left by one of the “last Neanderthals ever to walk the Earth.”

Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis) footprint in the Natural History Museum in Prague.

Coastal erosion first exposed Le Rozel in France in 1967 and the site has been excavated every three months since 2012. The discovery of these “extremely rare footprints” is by far the largest group of hominin fossil footprints found to date. And while some of the footprints were found in isolated patches, some were found in a walking sequence, with one footprint after another.

The new paper, published in PNAS by Dr. Jérémy Duveau of the Museum of National History in Paris and colleagues, says that no hominin species other than Neanderthals are known to have been living in the area of Le Rozel at the time.

This was supported by the types of stone tools they recovered which according to the paper were “typical of Neanderthals of the time”. The scientists concluded that this particular group contained at least four Neanderthals, but more likely up to 13, to count for all the footprints.

Were Neanderthals Taller Than We Think?

The researchers say the first and foremost indicator that these prints were Neanderthal was the shape of the foot, which is flatter and “less gracile” than ours. Of the 257 recorded footprints, 88 were complete and ranged from 11.4 to 28.7 centimeters (4.5 to 11.3 inches) in length, indicating the Neanderthals ranged from 74 centimeters in height (2 feet, 5 inches tall) to 185 centimeters (6 feet, 1 inch) – children and adults.

The partial skeleton of a Neanderthal child.

The scientists found the average height within this group of Neanderthals was 175 centimeters, (5 feet, 7 inches) compared with modern Homo sapiens averaging about 5 feet, 9 inches. These measurements, according to a report in New Scientist, match the average height of a man in the USA today suggesting Neanderthals could have been “taller than previous evidence suggests.”

Crabs on A Beach Leave Many Prints

The measured sizes of the footprints established that “more than half the occupants were shorter than 130 centimeters (4 feet, 3 inches) tall” suggesting that between 80 to 90 percent of the individuals were children, with a 2-year-old’s print measuring only 11.4 centimeters (4.5 inches) in length.

However, caution must be extended to the suggested group size of 13 based on the footprint count for, as any of you that have children will know, when left to their own devices, they can be like beach crabs tootling to-and-fro with the tide.

In practice, one child leaves many prints for everyone left by an adult, but accounting for this and other variables, the team of researchers believe their conclusion that children made up most of the group “is reasonable”.

These new results were compared to another Neanderthal group that had lived in the El Sidrón cave system in northern Spain in Normandy about 48,000 years ago, where researchers conducted mitochondrial genetic analysis and found seven adults, three adolescents, two children, and one infant—which is clearly a far higher proportion of adults to children.

Archaeologists claim 2,200-year-old ruins in Israel could be the remains of the biblical town Emmaus where Jesus travelled after his resurrection

Archaeologists claim 2,200-year-old ruins in Israel could be the remains of the biblical town Emmaus where Jesus travelled after his resurrection

In Israel, archeologists claimed to have found the Actual location of the biblical town of Emmaus, where Jesus first appeared to two followers after being crucified and resurrected.

Researchers have uncovered the remains of a 2200-year-old fortification at Kiriat-Jearim, a hill on the outskirts of Abu Ghosh, a town near Jerusalem.

It is believed that the massive wall of the Hellenistic forts was built by the Seleucid general who defeated Judah the Maccabee, the Jewish leader has spoken of in the Hanukkah story.

Archaeologists believe that the remains of a 2,200-year-old fortification at Kiriath-Jearim (pictured), a hill on the outskirts of Abu Ghosh, a village near Jerusalem, prove that the hill and village are the biblical towns of Emmaus
Emmaus is significant in Christianity as Jesus appeared to two of his apostles on the road to the town after his crucifixion and resurrection

Tel Aviv University professor Israel Finkelstein, who leads the archaeologist project with Thomas Romer and Christophe Nicolle of the College de France, now claims that the hill and village should be identified as Emmaus.  

In Christianity, Emmaus is significant as Jesus appeared to two of his apostles on the road to the town after his crucifixion and resurrection. 

In Luke 24:13-35, the town is described as being fortified and about seven miles west of Jerusalem. 

This matches the location of Kiriath-Jearim, Abu Ghosh and Jerusalem, as well as the distance between them. 

However, Benjamin Isaac, emeritus professor of ancient history from Tel Aviv University, warned that there are at least two other sites nearby which also have strong claims to be Emmaus.

He said: ‘Finkelstein and Römer have a good case archaeologically, geographically, and topographically.

‘However, it is a hypothesis and remains a hypothesis.’ 

Kiriath-Jearim is also described in the Bible as one of the places where the Ark of the Covenant stood before King David took it to Jerusalem.  According to the Bible, Moses had the Ark of the Covenant built to hold the Ten Commandments. 

Judah the Maccabee, a priest who led a Jewish revolt against the Seleucid empire, was defeated and killed at Kiriath-Jearim in 160 BC by the Seleucid army led by general Bacchides. 

Tel Aviv University professor Israel Finkelstein claims that the hill and village the project is working on should be identified as Emmaus

Bacchides fortified the towns surrounding Jerusalem with large walls, including the biblical town of Emmaus. Archaeologists believe they have found the walls built to fortify Emmaus. 

Describing the site, Finkelstein told Haaretz: ‘The importance of this site, its dominant position over Jerusalem, was felt again and again through time: in the eighth century B.C.E., and then again in the Hellenistic period and then again after the First Jewish Revolt and the sack of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.’

The latest research, including the claims about Emmaus, are detailed in a forthcoming paper published in the journal ‘New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region.’

In Luke 24:13-35, the town is described as being fortified and about seven miles west of Jerusalem. This matches the location of Kiriath-Jearim, Abu Ghosh and Jerusalem, as well as the distance between them

The project at Kiriath-Jearinm is being run by Tel Aviv University and the College de France. It is being supported by the Shmunis family from San Francisco. 

Finkelstein told Fox News: ‘The finds at Kiriath-Jearim hint at its long-term role as guarding the approach to Jerusalem.

‘The Hellenistic and Roman period remains shed light on the much-debated issue of the location of the New Testament’s Emmaus.’

Romer added: ‘Geographically I think that the distance to Jerusalem fits well, so I do think that Kiriath Yearim could have been the Emmaus of the New Testament.’ 

The Ancient Underwater 5,000- Year-Old Sunken City in Greece is considered to be the Oldest Submerged Lost City in the World.

The Ancient Underwater 5,000- Year-Old Sunken City in Greece is considered to be the Oldest Submerged Lost City in the World.

Pavlopetri is about 5 000 years old and one of the oldest populated city (oldest in Mediterranean sea). It is situated on the southern shore of Laconia, in Peloponnese, Greece.

The name Pavlopetri (“Paul’s and Peter’s”, or “Paul’s stone”) is the modern name for the islet and beach, apparently named for the two Christian saints that are celebrated together; the ancient name or names are unknown.

Discovered in 1967 by Nicholas Flemming and mapped in 1968 by a team of archaeologists from Cambridge, Pavlopetri is located between the Pavlopetri islet across the Elafonisos village and the Pounta coast.

The coast, the archaeological site as well as the islet and the surrounding sea area are within the region of the Elafonisos Municipality, the old “Onou Gnathos” peninsula (according to Pausanias).

It is unique in having an almost complete town plan, including streets, buildings, and tombs.

Originally, the ruins were dated to the Mycenaean period, 1600–1100 BC but later studies showed an older occupation date starting no later than 2800 BC, so it also includes early Bronze Age middle Minoan and transitional material.

It is now believed that the town was submerged around 1000 BC  by the first of three earthquakes that the area suffered. The area never re-emerged, so it was neither built-over nor disrupted by agriculture.

Although eroded over the centuries, the town layout is as it was thousands of years ago. The site is under threat of damage by boats dragging anchors, as well as by tourists and souvenir hunters.

Overview of Pavlopetri.

The fieldwork of 2009 was largely to map the site. It is the first submerged town digitally surveyed in three dimensions.

Sonar mapping techniques developed by military and oil prospecting organizations have aided recent work.

The city has at least 15 buildings submerged in 3 to 4 meters (9.8–13.1 ft) of water. The newest discoveries in 2009 alone cover 9,000 m2 (2.2 acres).

Position of Pavlopetri.
Position of Pavlopetri.

As of October 2009, four more fieldwork sessions are planned, also in collaboration with the Greek government as a joint project. Those sessions will do excavations.

Also working alongside the archaeologists (from the University of Nottingham) are a team from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, who aim to take underwater archaeology into the 21st century.

They have developed several unique robots to survey the site in various ways.

One of the results of the survey was to establish that the town was the center of the thriving textile industry (from the many loom weights found in the site). Also, many large pitharis pots (from Crete) were excavated, also indicating a major trading port.

The work of the British/Australian archaeological team was assembled in an hour-long BBC documentary video, “City Beneath the Waves: Pavlopetri”, broadcast by BBC Two in 2011.

The city of Pavlopetri is part of the underwater cultural heritage as defined by the UNESCO in the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.

All traces of human existence underwater which are one hundred years old or more are protected by the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.

This convention aims at preventing the destruction or loss of historic and cultural information and looting. It helps states parties to protect their underwater cultural heritage with an international legal framework.

Archaeologists find an ancient skeleton buried with ‘2,100-year-old iPhone’

Archaeologists find an ancient skeleton buried with ‘2,100-year-old iPhone’

In the mysterious burial site called the “Russian Atlantis” AN extraordinarily 2,137 years-old “iPhone” was excavated from the tomb of a young lady.

After a large, man-made reservoir in Siberia was drain during the summer, the tomb of the old fashionista – nicknamed Natasha by archeologists – was discovered.

The object is in actual fact an ancient belt buckle made of gemstone jet with inlaid decorations of turquoise, carnelian, and mother-of-pearl

It dates back to the ancient Xiongnu empire – a huge nation of nomads that ruled the area from the 3rd century BC to the late 1st century AD.

In fact, what looks strikingly like a smartphone is actually made of black gemstone jet rock – with a regular pattern of semi-precious stones inlaid. 

And rather than being a pre-historic piece of tech, the block was actually used as an ornate belt buckle.

Archaeologist Dr. Pavel Leus said: “Natasha’s’ burial with a Hunnu-era (Xiongnu) ‘iPhone’ remains one of the most interesting at this site.”

The intricate inlays are made of turquoise, carnelian, and mother-of-pearl – as well as a form of ancient Chinese coin.

Atlantis Necropolis

Dr. Leus added: “Hers was the only belt decorated with Chinese wuzhu coins which helped us to date it.”

The find is from the Ala-Tey necropolis in the so-called Sayan Sea – a giant reservoir upstream of the Sayano-Shushenskaya Dam, Russia’s biggest power plant.

The 7inx3in treasure was discovered in the normally submerged “Atlantis necropolis” this summer month – when the reservoir is temporarily drained.

The ancient burial plot is usually up to 56ft underwater, according to The Siberian Times.

Graves of prehistoric civilizations dating from the Bronze Age to the time of Genghis Khan are also located there.

It comes after the two partly-mummified prehistoric women were found – they were buried with the tools of their trade.

One called “Sleeping Beauty” – dressed in delicate silk for the afterlife – was at first believed to be a priestess but is now thought to have been a leather designer.

The second was a weaver laid to rest with her wooden spindle packed inside a sewing bag. The reservoir covers 240sq miles but in summer the water level falls by almost 60ft – giving its floor the appearance of a desert.

A total of 110 burials have so far been discovered on an island in the reservoir. 

The burial site is located in the Russian republic of Tuva

“This site is a scientific sensation”, said Dr Marina Kilunovskaya from the St Petersburg Institute of Material History Culture.

She added: “We are incredibly lucky to have found these burials of rich Hun nomads that were not disturbed by (ancient) grave robbers.”

Another Atlantis site in the reservoir is called Terezin and has at least 32 graves closer to the shore. Scientists admit they are in a race against time to examine the sites and save priceless treasures from damage by the returning water. 

Scientists have found that the tomb of Jesus Christ is far older than people thought

Scientists have found that the tomb of Jesus Christ is far older than people thought

The shrine (sometimes called the Edicule) that holds the tomb of Jesus is seen in this photograph. The shrine is located within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Scientific studies indicate that a tomb that, according to legend, held Jesus Christ’s body dates back nearly 1,700 years.

It is unknown whether the tomb ever really kept Jesus ‘ body. The limestone bed dates back to nearly 300 years after Jesus ‘ death. In addition, several other sites claim to hold the “tomb of Jesus.”

Jesus ‘ tomb is covered by a shrine (sometimes called the Edicule) in Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulcher Church.

According to legend, Helena, the mother of Roman emperor Constantine the Great (reign ca. 306-337), discovered the tomb around the year 327.

Constantine legalized Christianity throughout the Roman Empire and supposedly converted to Christianity before he died.

The legend says the Romans protected the tomb of Jesus by building a shrine over it as well as a church.

This church has been destroyed, renovated and rebuilt several times over the past 1,700 years.

Today, the shrine that covers the tomb is in poor shape and is in danger of collapse. To help save it, a team that includes scientists supported by the National Geographic Society has been conducting conservation work in the shrine and its tomb.

During this work, the archaeologists opened the tomb of Jesus for the first time in centuries — it has been sealed with marble slabs since at least A.D. 1555 to prevent damage from visitors — and excavated the tomb.

They found the remains of what appears to be a limestone bed that, as legend says, may have held the body of Jesus.

Tests using a technique called optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) of mortar from the limestone bed revealed when the quartz within the masonry was last exposed to light.

Candles placed on top of the tomb after its restoration.

The results showed that the bed was constructed around A.D. 345, during or shortly after the reign of Constantine the Great. The test results were released by the National Geographic Society.

“Obviously, that date is spot-on for whatever Constantine did,” archaeologist Martin Biddle, who has studied the tomb extensively, told National Geographic.

Today, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a site of pilgrimage for Christians.

A study reporting the test results will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. When the conservation work is complete, scientists hope that the marble cladding that hid the tomb will be replaced with a material that will allow visitors to see inside the tomb.

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