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For the first time since at least 1555 AD, the purported tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre has been unsealed, revealing the surface of the limestone burial bed on which it is believed Jesus' body lay. The burial bed had been covered with a marble slab centuries ago to prevent pilgrims from chipping off pieces of the tomb as souvenirs. After removing the marble slab, archaeologists were surprised to find a layer of fill, and then a second marble slab with a cross carved into its surface. The researchers had been given only 60 hours to complete their work. Just hours before their time was up, the original limestone surface of the burial bed was uncovered and found intact. Throughout the operation, the archaeologists photographed and documented their findings; these will be studied in further detail in the coming months and years. The tomb has since been resealed, and renovations to the badly deteriorating Edicule (shrine) will continue until next spring. While it is impossible to know conclusively that this is the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth described in the Gospels, the historical claims of the site are significant and nothing initially discovered in the recent unsealing would contradict the long-standing Christian tradition that this is the original empty tomb of Jesus.

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