Biblical Archaeology Review 44:5, September/October 2018

Strata: Exhibit Watch: Restoring the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The traditional location of Jesus’s death and burial, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of Jerusalem’s most visited sites. Despite its revered status, the church has not been immune to the ravages of time—or destruction from direct attacks and fires. Originally constructed in the fourth century C.E., the Church of the Holy Sepulchre has undergone numerous expansions and repairs—most recently in 2017.

The Edicule, the shrine that encases Jesus’s tomb, was in desperate need of repair. Yet any change made to the church must be approved by the six Christian denominations who jointly control the building. Fortunately, they all agreed to restore the Edicule and commissioned the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) to carry out this task. Using laser scanning, thermal imaging, LIDAR, sonar, and other innovative technologies, NTUA analyzed the shrine, conserved it, and revealed their finished work in March 2017. National Geographic was there to document the entire thing.

Get a close-up look at this repair—and at the church itself—at the National Geographic Museum’s exhibit Tomb of Christ: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre Experience. The exhibit virtually transports you to Jerusalem, allows you to explore the church through 3D experiences, and walks you through its history—in ground-breaking, interactive ways. Whether you’ve visited the church in person or not, you’ll leave this exhibit with a new understanding and appreciation of it.

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