Holy Sepulchre needs more repair or it might collapse

Domes_of_the_Church_of_the_Holy_SepulchreRestoration work on the shrine built around the likely spot of Christ’s tomb has been completed.  (See this and this and this.)  But researchers have found that the shrine and the surrounding complex have been built on unstable ground.  Without more work, there could someday be a “catastrophic” collapse.

The “edicule,” the small building around the tomb that has been restored, preserves the remnants of a cave.  It was once part of a quarry that had been turned into grave sites for wealthy Jews.  (Note the confirmation of what the Bible says about Joseph of Arimathea, who offered the grave that he owned for the body of Jesus.)  A number of those other grave sites have also been discovered on the property.  The quarry is also thought to have been the site of “the Place of the Skull,” the Golgotha where criminals were executed.  This is why the Church of the Holy Sepulchre complex also includes the reported site of the crucifixion.

The site over the ancient quarry is honeycombed with other caves and tunnels from the mining.  The current structure is also built on top of tons of rubble, not only from the quarry but from layers of  building and rebuilding over the centuries.  Plus, the graves were dug into a slope.  Drainage problems and damage from so many visitors are compounding the problem.

Researchers are proposing a six million euro project to shore up the buildings and to stabilize the foundations.  The construction work would be accompanied with more archaeological excavation.
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Top 10 discoveries in Biblical archaeology for 2016

Roman_writing_tablet_022016 was a good year for Biblical archaeology, with numerous excavations and artifacts confirming Biblical history. Christianity Today announced its “Top 10 Discoveries of 2016.”

I give the list after the jump, but you’ll want to go to the link for descriptions of each of the finds.  The linked article itself has links that will take you to details and photographs. [Read more…]

“See the place where they laid Him”

We blogged about the excavation of what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  When the marble cladding was removed over the place where the body would have been laid, there was a layer of debris.  Under that was another marble covering.  The researchers removed that, exposing the original limestone burial slab.

The researchers only had permission to study the slab for a short time, but they collected and recorded all the data they could.  They continue to study the rest of the tomb.  They have determined that the site, which also encloses six other rock tombs, was, in fact, a Jewish cemetery at the time of Jesus.

After the jump, read the latest details.  And click the link for PICTURES.  (They are copyrighted by National Geographic, so I’d better not copy them here.)
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Excavating the empty tomb

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is traditionally considered to be the site of Christ’s tomb from which He rose from the dead.  That claim is actually well-attested by historians.

In the course of a restoration project in the church, workers have removed the marble covering that had been installed in 1555 over the place where Jesus’s body supposedly had been laid.  They found a rock surface that is apparently the “burial shelf” that is a feature of ancient Jewish tombs.  Archaeologists plan to excavate the site.

Some of the evidence that supports the church as the site of Christ’s tomb is that the building, erected over an ancient stone quarry, has been found to enclose other tombs of the period.  This one is empty.

Details after the jump, with pictures at the link. [Read more…]

Hezekiah’s toilet

Archaeologists have excavated a site identified with the rule of Hezekiah.  It includes a shrine with horned altars with the horns knocked off.  Also in the shrine:  a stone latrine.  Scientists have determined that it had never been used, so it was apparently put in just to desecrate the shrine.

This would seem to be evidence of Hezekiah’s crackdown on idolatrous worship.  In fact, there is a Biblical text about it:

“Then they demolished the pillar of Baal, and destroyed the temple of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day” (2 Kings 10:27).

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Proof of literacy in Bible days

Liberal scholars arguing for a late date for the texts of the Old Testament say that the Hebrews couldn’t have been literate until after the Babylonian exile.  (Circular reasoning, anyone?)  But archaeologists have discovered a trove of letters written on pottery from a remote military installation.  They are dated around 600 B.C., shortly before Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem.   The 18 letters come from at least six different writers, showing that even ordinary soldiers of the day could read and write. [Read more…]