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Historic Christian site opened for the first time in centuries

The historic site where Christians believe the body of Jesus was laid after the crucifixion has been opened for the first time since the 15th century, Moheet.com reported on Sunday. The tomb is located in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem. The marble slab on the tomb was moved for the first time since 1810, when it was placed there after renovation works were carried out in the wake of a fire.

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"The marble covering of the tomb has been pulled back, and we were surprised by the amount of fill material beneath it," said Fredrik Hiebert, an archaeologist for the National Geographic Society, which is a partner in the restoration project. "It will be a long scientific analysis, but we will finally be able to see the original rock surface on which, according to [Christian] tradition, the body of Christ was laid."

The National Geographic website also said that the interior of the tomb is currently undergoing restoration by a team of scientists from the National Technical University of Athens, under the direction of Chief Scientific Supervisor Professor Antonia Moropoulou. "We are at the critical moment for rehabilitating the Edicule [a small house where the tomb existed]," Moropoulou explained. "The techniques we are using to document this unique monument will enable the world to study our findings as if they themselves were in the tomb of Christ."

The Greek university was invited to study the Edicule in 2015, by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, with the agreement of the other two major communities. The Christian communities of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre agreed to restore the structure in March this year, with work to be completed by the spring of 2017.

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