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Slab Tomb, Meseta A

Slab Tomb, Meseta A

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Tomb slab

Even after the cathedral fell out of use following the Protestant Reformation, this was still a desirable place to be buried. People paid for splendid memorials to mark their distinguished graves.

This is a memorial to a couple named Dunbar. The Dunbars were an important local family, who held the earldom of Moray from 1372 until 1455.

Elgin Cathedral

Elgin Cathedral, known as the ‘Lantern of the North’, is one of Scotland’s most beautiful medieval cathedrals.

The monumentally impressive building dominated the flat and fertile Laich of Moray from the time it was built. It continued to do so even after its demise at the Protestant Reformation of 1560.

Work began on the cathedral in the first half of the 1200s, but it is the product of three main building phases. Even as a ruin, the cathedral still boasts plenty of detail that tells of its development and embellishment.

The cathedral was once richly carved and adorned with stained glass and painted decoration. A fine collection of architectural fragments hints at the building’s lost beauty, while documentary evidence sheds light on religious life at Elgin.

The cathedral was the spiritual heart of the diocese of Moray. But the bishop’s ‘cathedra’ (seat) wasn’t always at Elgin. Before the time of Bishop Brice of Douglas (1203–22), it moved between Kinneddar, Birnie and Spynie.

Bishop Brice chose Spynie (2 miles north) as the permanent location for his cathedral, but it moved to Elgin around 1224. After the Reformation, it was used only sometimes for Catholic worship.

Awe-inspiring building

One of Elgin’s former bishops, Alexander Bur (1362–97) boasted that his cathedral was “the ornament of the realm, the glory of the kingdom”. It’s easy to see why, even today.

Much of the nave is reduced to foundations, but the rest stands remarkably complete. Most awe-inspiring of all is the spectacular west front.

  • is flanked by two tall towers – part the original building
  • has a processional entrance dating from after 1270
  • has two doorway arches added in the early 1400s
  • features an oval recess above, which once housed a carved image, perhaps of the Holy Trinity, and is flanked by angels

The east end of the cathedral was greatly extended after the fire of 1270 to provide a more magnificent setting for worship.

The choir and presbytery, built around 1270, show the influence of regional trends, but have a distinctive style unique to Elgin.

An octagonal chapter house dates from the late 1200s. Inside are a well-preserved reading lectern and a riot of carved beasts and faces.

Christ's tomb uncovered: This is what experts discovered

After uncovering the stone slab venerated as Jesus Christ's burial place, archaeologists have now examined the interior of the tomb in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The tomb is a limestone shelf or burial bed hewn from the wall of a cave, National Geographic reports. Covered by marble cladding since at least 1555 A.D., it was exposed Oct. 26 as part of a major restoration project at the church.

An initial inspection by a team from the National Technical University of Athens revealed a layer of fill material beneath the marble cladding. Additional work revealed another marble slab with a cross carved into its surface, according to National Geographic. Just hours before the tomb was re-sealed Oct. 28, the original limestone burial bed was found to be intact.

Experts also confirmed the existence of the original limestone cave walls inside the Edicule, the early 19th-century structure within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre that houses the tomb.

The burial bed was hewn from the side of a limestone cave following Christ’s crucifixion, according to Christian tradition. Christ’s resurrection from the dead is a core tenet of Christian belief – the gospels say that the tomb was found to be empty by those who visited it a few days after the crucifixion.

National Geographic reports that a transparent window has been cut into the Edicule’s interior wall to expose one of the cave walls.

“This is the Holy Rock that has been revered for centuries, but only now can actually be seen," the project’s Chief Scientific Supervisor Professor Antonia Moropoulou told National Geographic.

File photo - Worshippers hold candles as they take part in the Christian Orthodox Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City April 11, 2015. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner)

The Gospels say that Jesus was buried outside Jerusalem’s city walls, which was in keeping with Jewish tradition, and near Golgotha, the site of his crucifixion. Jerusalem’s walls were later expanded to place Golgotha and the tomb within the city.

“We know that this area was a Jewish cemetery at the time of Jesus,” Jodi Magness, archaeology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who is not involved in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre project, told Magness noted that other tombs are located in the immediate vicinity.

The church was first built during the fourth century A.D. by the Roman Emperor Constantine on a site venerated as Christ’s burial place by the local Christian community. Constantine demolished a Roman Temple built by the Emperor Hadrian on the site some 200 years earlier and excavated the rock beneath it to expose the loculus, or burial niche, identified as Christ’s tomb.

“He cut back the entire rocky outcrop in order to enshrine that [loculus] within the rotunda [of the church],” said Magness. “All that was left was the base of the single loculus.”

“This is as close as we can get archaeologically,” she added, noting that a “300-year archaeological gap” exists between Christ’s crucifixion and Constantine’s enshrinement of the tomb.

The Church built by Constantine was destroyed by the Fatimid Caliphate in 1009 and rebuilt in the middle of the 11th century, according to National Geographic.

Archaeologist Martin Biddle, who is an expert on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, told National Geographic that data from the burial bed and cave walls should be carefully analyzed, as any graffiti could provide vital clues to the tomb’s history.

The Garden Tomb (or Gordon’s Tomb)

The Garden Tomb, as it appeared in the 1920’s, was only identified as a possible site for the tomb of Jesus in the 19th century. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Another possible location for the tomb of Jesus is the Garden Tomb, popularized in 1883 by Charles Gordon (hence its alternate name – Gordon’s Tomb). Its serene setting in a garden makes it a popular tourist destination, particularly with evangelical Christians, who come to see the spot where Jesus was buried.

The history of the Garden tomb is littered with questionable identification tactics, such as Gordon’s belief that Jerusalem represented the shape of a skeleton with Skull Hill being the head 9 , and outright fraud, like Ron Wyatt’s claim to have found the Ark of the Covenant nearby. 10

More importantly, no Second-Temple-era tombs have been found anywhere in the vicinity. 11 Archaeologist, Gabriel Barkay, who has studied the tomb complex in which the Garden Tomb is located has concluded that it is an Iron Age tomb, dating to the 7th or 8th centuries B.C.. Its typology clearly resembles the other First-Temple era tombs in the area, particularly those on the property of the nearby Basilica of St. Stephen. 12 The Garden Tomb was not a “new tomb in which no one had yet been laid” (John 19:41) it was already over 600 years old by the time of Jesus.

Verdict: While there is perhaps value in having a tomb in the peaceful setting of a garden which reminds people of what the original tomb setting may have been like, this is not the actual tomb of Jesus.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Around the World

Throughout history, thousands of wars have been fought and millions of soldiers have lost their lives, but only an insignificant fraction of victims had their monuments erected, honored or remembered through stories. The majority of them had their remains sent home to their families where they now lie in some cemetery, in some corner of the world, remembered only by their closest friends and families. Sometimes bodies are so badly mutilated and burned that many fallen soldiers remain unidentified.

After World War 1, a movement began to commemorate these unknown soldiers with a single tomb, that would contain the body of one such unidentified soldier. That one soldier would then serve as a symbol of the sacrifice of all the unknown soldiers who died in battle. Today, there are many such memorials around the world. They are called “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.”

A soldier of the U.S. Army stands guard over The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Virginia. Photo credit

The proposal for commemorating the unknown victims of war with a single tomb was first made by Reverend David Railton, in 1916, after seeing a grave marked by a rough cross with a pencil-written legend "An Unknown British Soldier", while serving in the British Army as a chaplain on the Western Front. His suggestion was received with support from the public as well as from the Dean of Westminster, Prime Minister and King George V. At the same time a proposal for a similar monument was passed in France.

On November 11, 1920, the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior was created at Westminster Abbey, in Britain, while in in France La tombe du soldat inconnu was placed in the Arc de Triomphe. The idea of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier spread throughout other countries and within a few years similar tombs were erected in many countries.

Here are some selected Tombs of the Unknown Soldier from around the world.

The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in London

The very first Tomb of the Unknown Warrior is located in Westminster Abbey, London, and contains the grave of an unknown soldier whose remains were exhumed from a battlefield and reburied here. The grave was then capped with a black Belgian marble stone featuring an inscription composed by the Dean of Westminster, engraved with brass from melted down wartime ammunition.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, , accompanied by Dean of Westminster the Reverend John Hall, right, walks by the tomb of unknown warriors on the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Photo credit

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in France

The day the remains of the unknown soldier was lowered into a grave in Westminster Abbey, another body was buried beneath Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The slab on top bears the inscription ICI REPOSE UN SOLDAT FRANÇAIS MORT POUR LA PATRIE 1914� ("Here lies a French soldier who died for the fatherland 1914�").

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in USA

The American Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, United States of America. The tomb was unveiled in November 11, 1921. The monument is guarded all round the clock, all round the year by soldiers of the United States Army. To serve as a Tomb Guard is considered one of the highest honors. When watching over the tomb, the Tomb Guards follow a very elaborate ritual that involves marching down a precise path, waiting, shifting weapon to the other shoulder, and then marching back down the same path, all clocked precisely to the last second.

The tomb is guarded all round the clock, no matter what the weather is. Here, Spc. Brian Gougler guards the Tomb as snow begins to fall Jan. 9, 2012. Photo credit

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Belgium

The Belgium Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located at the foot of the Congress Column on the Place du Congrès Congresplein in Brussels, where is buried the remains of five unknown soldiers. The monument was unveiled on 11 November 1922.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Canada

The Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located before the National War Memorial in Confederation Square, Ottawa, Ontario. The memorial holds the remains of an unidentified Canadian soldier who died in France during World War I. His remains were exhumed from a cemetery in the vicinity of Vimy Ridge, the site of a famous Canadian battle.

The Unknown Soldier Memorial in Egypt

Egypt has many Unknown Soldier Memorials for Egyptian and Arab soldiers, but the most famous is the one in Cairo. The Unknown Soldier Memorial in Cairo is a pyramid-shaped monument in Nasr City, constructed in 1974 in honour of Egyptians and Arabs who lost their lives in the 1973 October War.

The monument is a magnificent hollow pyramid, 36 meters tall and made of concrete. At the center of the base is a solid basalt cube representing the soldier's tomb.

Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Baghdad

The Monument to the Unknown Soldier in central Baghdad was built in 1980 when the Iran–Iraq War began. The Monument represents a traditional shield dropping from the dying grasp of an Iraqi warrior. The shield hangs over a cube made from layers of metal. The cube itself is connected to an underground museum by a long shaft with windows that allow light to shine in from above. Inside the museum, visitors can look up at the ceiling and see through the openings leading to the cube above.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Italy

The Italian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located in Altare della Patria, a monument built in honour of the first king of a unified Italy, and is built under the statue of goddess Roma. It contains the body of an unknown soldier killed during World War I.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Greece

The Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located at Syntagma Square in central Athens. Members of Evzones, the historic elite members of the Greek Army are stationed in front of it. There is a marble picture in the background which is a copy of an ancient warrior grave stele (stone slab) that depicts a hoplite, a citizen-soldier of the Ancient Greek, lying dead on a small slab.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Russia

The Russian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located in Moscow, at the Kremlin Wall in the Alexander Garden. The remains of the unknown soldiers killed in the Battle of Moscow in 1941 were initially buried in a mass grave at the city of Zelenograd, but was relocated to the Kremlin Wall in 1966. The dark red porphyry monument is decorated with a bronze sculpture of a laurel branch and a soldier's helmet laid upon a banner.

Was This Really the Tomb of Christ?

While it is archaeologically impossible to say that the tomb recently uncovered in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the burial site of an individual Jew known as Jesus of Nazareth, there is indirect evidence to suggest that the identification of the site by representatives of the Roman emperor Constantine some 300 years later may be a reasonable one.

The earliest accounts of Jesus' burial come from the Canonical Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament, which are believed to have been composed decades after Christ's crucifixion around A.D. 30. While there are variations in the details, the accounts consistently describe how Christ was buried in a rock-cut tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy Jewish follower of Jesus.

Archaeologists have identified more than a thousand such rock-cut tombs in the area around Jerusalem, says archaeologist and National Geographic grantee Jodi Magness. Each one of these family tombs consisted of one or more burial chambers with long niches cut into the sides of the rock to accommodate individual bodies.

"All of this is perfectly consistent with what we know about how wealthy Jews disposed of their dead in the time of Jesus," says Magness. "This does not, of course, prove that the event was historical. But what it does suggest is that whatever the sources were for the gospel accounts, they were familiar with this tradition and these burial customs."

Where is King Henry VIII Buried and Why Doesn’t He Have a Tomb?

St. George’s Chapel with the vault where Henry VIII and Jane Seymour are buried in the floor. Image from’%20s%20Chapel/St%20George’s%20A.jpg

King Henry VIII died on January 28, 1547. It was the end of an era. His will commanded he be buried with his beloved wife Jane Seymour, the only wife to give birth to a surviving legitimate male heir. Henry had given her a magnificent funeral after which she was buried in a vault under the quire of St. George’s Chapel in Windsor. This vault was meant to be their temporary resting place.

Henry’s body was bathed, embalmed with spices and encased in lead. It laid in state in the presence chamber of Whitehall surrounded by burning tapers for a few days and was then moved to the chapel. On February 14, the body began its journey from London to Windsor. The procession was four miles long. An elaborate, tall hearse bore the coffin as it rumbled along the road. On top of the hearse was a lifelike wax effigy dressed in crimson velvet with miniver lining and velvet shoes. There was a black satin cap set with precious stones which was covered with a crown. The effigy was adorned with jewels and the gloved hands had rings.

The remains spent the night in Syon Abbey and the next day arrived at Windsor. Sixteen members of the Yeoman of the Guard bore the coffin into the black draped chapel. It was lowered into the vault in the quire. Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester spoke the eulogy and celebrated the requiem mass as Katherine Parr, the dowager Queen, observed the ceremony from Katherine of Aragon’s oriel window. After the mass, as the trumpets sounded, the chief officers of the King’s household broke their staves of office and threw them into the vault, signaling the end of their service.

Katherine of Aragon’s oriel window in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor (

The king had left money for daily masses to be said for his soul until the end of the world. But the Protestant rulers of Edward VI’s government stopped the masses after a year. Henry’s will left instructions for a magnificent tomb to be built.

History of the Tomb

As early as 1518, Henry had plans drawn up for a tomb for himself and his first wife Katherine of Aragon. The initial plans were made by the Italian sculptor Pietro Torrigiano, the same man who designed the tomb for Henry’s parents Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. This tomb can be seen in the Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey to this day. Torrigiano planned for Henry VIII’s sarcophagus to be made of the same white marble and black touchstone as his father’s only it was to be twenty-five percent bigger. An argument over compensation for the designing of the plans ensued causing Torrigiano to return to Italy sometime before June 1519. There is evidence Henry considered giving another Italian, Jacopo Sansovino a commission for seventy five thousand ducats to work on a design in 1527.

Effigies of Elizabeth of York and King Henry VII in the Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey

During the seventeenth century, antiquarian John Speed was doing some historical research and unearthed a now vanished manuscript that gave details of Henry VIII’s tomb. It was based on Sansovino’s design from 1527. The plans called for a vast edifice decorated with fine Oriental stones, white marble pillars, gilded bronze angels and life-size images of Henry and his Queen. It was even going to include a magnificent statue of the King on horseback under a triumphal arch. One hundred and forty-four brass gilt figures were to adorn the tomb, including St. George, St. John the Baptist, the Apostles and the Evangelists.

It just so happens that Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Henry’s chief minister in the early years of his reign, had plans for a resplendent tomb for himself. Benedetto da Rovezzano, an employee of Wolsey’s from 1524 to 1529, kept a comprehensive inventory of the statues and ornamentation for this tomb. When Wolsey died, Henry adopted some components of Wolsey’s tomb for his own. Rovezzano and his assistant Giovanni de Maiano worked on the tomb for Henry from 1530 to 1536.

After Wolsey died, Henry actually appropriated the sarcophagus from his tomb. He planned to have a gilded life-size figure of himself on top. There was to be a raised podium with bronze friezes embedded in the walls along with ten tall pillars topped with statues of the Apostles surrounding the tomb. Between each of the pillars there would be nine foot tall bronze candlesticks. The design called for an altar at the east end of the tomb, topped with a canopy held aloft by four elaborate pillars. This would also include sixteen effigies of angels at the base holding candlesticks. The tomb and altar were to be enclosed by a black marble and bronze chantry chapel where masses could be said for the King’s soul. Had this design been finalized, it would have been much grander than the tomb of Henry’s parents.

Imagined drawing of Henry VIII’s tomb (Copyright: The Dean and Canons of Windsor)

The effigy of the king was actually cast and polished while Henry was still alive and other items were manufactured in workshops in Westminster. Work progressed during the last years of Henry’s reign but wars in France and Scotland were draining the royal treasury and work slowed. Rovezzano returned to Italy due to bad health. Some of the work on the monument continued during Edward VI’s reign but his treasury was always short of funds. Edward’s will requested the tomb be finished. Queen Mary I did nothing on the tomb.

Queen Elizabeth I had some interest in the project. Her minister William Cecil commissioned a survey of the work needed to complete the tomb and new plans were prepared in 1565. Whatever completed items there were in Westminster were moved to Windsor but after 1572, work came to a standstill. The components languished at Windsor until 1646 when the Commonwealth needed funds and sold the effigy of Henry to be melted down for money. Four of the bronze candlesticks found their way to the Cathedral of St. Bavo in Ghent, Belgium.

After the execution of King Charles I in 1649 (or 1648 in the old dating scheme), his remains were hastily placed in the same vault in the Chapel. It was deemed appropriate to bury him there because it was quieter and less accessible than somewhere in London in an effort to reduce the number of pilgrims to the grave of the martyred king. During the reign of Queen Anne, one of her many infants died and was buried in the same vault in a tiny coffin. In 1805, the sarcophagus that had been Wolsey’s and Henry’s was taken and used as the base of Lord Nelson’s tomb in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

The grave was then forgotten until it was rediscovered when excavation commenced in 1813 for a passage to a new royal vault. The old vault was opened in the presence of the Regent, George Prince of Wales, the future King George IV. Several relics of King Charles I were removed for identification. When they were replaced in 1888, AY Nutt, Surveyor of the Fabric to the College of St. George made a watercolor drawing of the vault and its contents. Henry VIII’s coffin appears badly damaged. Jane Seymour’s was intact.

A Y Nutt’s watercolour of Henry VIII’s vault

Henry’s coffin could have been broken in several ways. The trestle supporting it could have collapsed. It’s possible when they went into the vault to put Charles’ coffin, Henry’s was damaged. It could have collapsed due to pressure from within. Or it’s also possible the coffin fell along the way, causing it to split open.

Marble slab indicting the vault in the quire of St. George’s Chapel where Henry VIII and Jane Seymour are buried

The Prince Regent requested a marble slab be inserted to mark the grave but this didn’t materialize until the reign of King William IV in 1837. The inscription on the slab reads: In a vault beneath this marble slab are deposited the remains of Jane Seymour Queen of King Henry VIII 1537, King Henry VIII 1547, King Charles I 1648 and an infant child of Queen Anne. This memorial was placed here by command of King William IV. 1837.

The Legend of the Licking Dogs

Because of the subject of this post, we have to address the legend of the dogs licking Henry’s blood as his body spent the night at Syon. The story starts with the sermon by a Franciscan friar named William Petow. He preached at the chapel at Greenwich on Easter Sunday, March 31, 1532. It was the time of the king’s “Great Matter”, the name for Henry’s effort to get a divorce or annulment of his marriage to Katherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn.

Not only did Petow challenge Henry about trying to put aside Katherine of Aragon, he objected to Anne Boleyn’s efforts to promote the New Religion. He made this very clear in the sermon as the king sat before him in the chapel. Instead of pontificating on the resurrection of Christ, he preached on the verse from the Bible, 1 Kings 22 regarding King Ahab. King Ahab dies from wounds he suffered in a battle. The verse reads: “So the King died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried him there. They washed the chariot at a pool in Samaria (where the prostitutes bathed), and the dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the Lord had declared.”

Petow compared Henry to King Ahab and Anne Boleyn to Ahab’s wife Jezebel. Jezebel had replaced the prophets of God with pagans as Petow said Anne was endorsing and encouraging men of the New Religion. Petow said Henry would end up like Ahab with dogs licking his blood. Amazingly, Henry only imprisoned Petow for a short time and he escaped England and ended up on the Continent.

This story was taken up and repeated by Gilbert Burnet (1643-1715). He was an historian and the Bishop of Salisbury and he wrote the “History of the Reformation” in which he stated this actually happened to Henry’s body as it spent the night at Syon Abbey on the way to Windsor. Burnet himself admitted he was in a hurry when he wrote this book and did not research it sufficiently and that the volume was full of mistakes.

This didn’t stop Agnes Strickland from embellishing the story when she wrote her “Lives of the Queens of England” in the mid-19th century. She writes that the lead casing surrounding Henry’s body burst and oozed blood and other liquids. A plumber was called to fix the coffin and he witnessed a dog licking the blood. All of this is a unique exercise in historical fiction so we have to take the story as apocryphal.

Further reading: “Henry VIII: The King and His Court” by Alison Weir, “Henry VIII: The Mask of Royalty” by Lacey Baldwin Smith, entry on Gilbert Burnet in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography written by Martin Greig, The Will of King Henry VIII, St. George’s Chapel website

Revealed! The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem might be Jesus Christ’s real grave

A shocking archaeological discovery reveals that The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Israel might have been built immediately after the death of Jesus Christ—rather than 1,000 years later, as was believed to be the case based upon previous findings.

This officially makes it the strongest contender for being Jesus Christ's original site of crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Traditional pilgrims who have visited the The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem are ecstatic to receive this news and thousands who haven't, are making plans to visit the revered site following the discovery.

Rosetta Stone found

On July 19, 1799, during Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign, a French soldier discovers a black basalt slab inscribed with ancient writing near the town of Rosetta, about 35 miles east of Alexandria. The irregularly shaped stone contained fragments of passages written in three different scripts: Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian demotic. The ancient Greek on the Rosetta Stone told archaeologists that it was inscribed by priests honoring the king of Egypt, Ptolemy V, in the second century B.C. More startlingly, the Greek passage announced that the three scripts were all of identical meaning. The artifact thus held the key to solving the riddle of hieroglyphics, a written language that had been �” for nearly 2,000 years.

When Napoleon, an emperor known for his enlightened view of education, art and culture, invaded Egypt in 1798, he took along a group of scholars and told them to seize all important cultural artifacts for France. Pierre Bouchard, one of Napoleon’s soldiers, was aware of this order when he found the basalt stone, which was almost four feet long and two-and-a-half feet wide, at a fort near Rosetta. When the British defeated Napoleon in 1801, they took possession of the Rosetta Stone.

Several scholars, including Englishman Thomas Young made progress with the initial hieroglyphics analysis of the Rosetta Stone. French Egyptologist Jean-Francois Champollion (1790-1832), who had taught himself ancient languages, ultimately cracked the code and deciphered the hieroglyphics using his knowledge of Greek as a guide. Hieroglyphics used pictures to represent objects, sounds and groups of sounds. Once the Rosetta Stone inscriptions were translated, the language and culture of ancient Egypt was suddenly open to scientists as never before.

Researchers date discovery of Christ's tomb in Jerusalem to Roman era

ATHENS (Reuters) - Mortar under a slab at the heart of Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre dates to the era of Roman Emperor Constantine, confirming historical accounts of the discovery of the place where Christians believe Jesus was entombed, researchers say.

According to historical accounts, Constantine - who was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity - discovered the rocky tomb with assistance from his mother Helena between 325 and 326 AD, buried beneath a temple to the Roman goddess Venus.

Today it is visited regularly by millions of pilgrims and tended by priests from several Christian denominations under strict rules still in place from the Ottoman era.

Virtually razed to the ground in 1009, the Holy Sepulchre complex was rebuilt over the centuries by various Christian groups, including the Byzantines and the Crusaders from the 12th century onwards.

But a team of scientists and restorers who completed almost nine months of work on the tomb last March said they were able to determine that a slab at the heart of the compound dated from Constantine’s time.

“That was a great moment to validate,” said Professor Antonia Moropoulou, Chief Scientific Supervisor from the National Technical University of Athens who directed the restoration project.

The researchers restored a structure inside the church called the Edicule, which is believed to house the tomb itself. Their work included removing a marble slab which covers a ledge where Christ, according to Christian scriptures, was lain after crucifixion and resurrected on the third day.

A second fractured slab was found beneath the top slab, attached to the bedrock and engraved with a cross. Analysing gypsum mortar connecting that slab to the bedrock allowed them to determine its age, dating it to 335-345 AD.

“When we opened the tomb and saw this broken grey slab with an engraved cross we didn’t know from which era it was,” Moropoulou told Reuters. “We concluded, according to concrete results, that the slab which was adjoined to the bedrock of the tomb of Christ was of the Constantinean era.”

Moropoulou said she herself had half expected to find that the slab, like the church around it, dated from a later era.

She felt “great. Very happy indeed. I did not expect it. but the monument talks, and it says its history.”

Watch the video: Simplified Rules of Curtailment of Reinforcing in Slabs (July 2022).


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