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PHOTOS: Restoration of Jesus' tomb costs $3.3 million

March 22, 2017 13:01 IST

The restoration work, held up for more than 200 years, took nine months to be completed.

IMAGE: Visitors stand near the newly restored Edicule, the ancient structure housing the tomb, which according to Christian belief is where Jesus' body was anointed and buried, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City. All Photographs: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

After nine months of hard work, a team of scientists and restorers has completed the restoration of the tomb where Jesus is believed to have been buried.

The shrine in Jerusalem’s Old City was re-opened to the public on Wednesday.

The group has worked for the past nine months at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and focused on the small structure above the burial place, known as the Edicule.

Many Christians believe Jesus' body was buried at what became the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

"The structure needed reinforcement and conservation, including work on drainage network for rainwater and sewage," Antonia Moropoulou, a professor at the National Technical University of Athens who directed the work at the site, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

IMAGE: During the renovation, researchers came across the actual limestone shelf where, according to doctrine, Christ's body was brought after his crucifixion.

The Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic denominations share custody of the church, where tensions often run high over control of its various sectors.

During the renovation, researchers came across the actual limestone shelf where, according to doctrine, Christ's body was brought after his crucifixion, Architectural Digest reported.

Christian tradition indicates that followers visited the site three days later only to find the tomb empty, confirming Jesus' resurrection.

IMAGE: Christian tradition indicates that followers visited the site three days later after crucifixion and found the tomb empty, confirming Jesus' resurrection.

Disputes between the denominations have held up restoration work for more than 200 years.

Unlike other parts of the church, which were renovated between the 1960s and 1990s, the Edicule had been neglected, reported The Guardian.

The work began last year after the church was deemed unsafe by Israeli authorities.

Media reports said each denomination had contributed toward the project and Jordan’s King Abdullah also made a personal donation, with the work costing around $3.3 million (Rs 21 crore).

The reopening ceremony was led by religious leaders and donors.

IMAGE: The cave thought to be the tomb of Jesus was opened for the first time in centuries.

The Guardian quoted Moropoulou as saying that in October last year, the cave thought to be the tomb of Jesus was opened for the first time in centuries.

When marble slabs were removed to allow for the chamber’s reinforcement, a top slab dating from the era of the Crusades was found, indicating that the tomb had not been opened for 700 years, Moropoulou said.

Underneath they found another from the era of Constantine the Great, the emperor who began the Roman Empire’s transition to Christianity.

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