The original stone where Jesus Christ is traditionally believed to have been laid on after he was crucified has now been exposed as part of a major restoration project in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, where the tomb lies.

Christian tradition holds that the body of the Jesus Christ was laid on a burial bed made of limestone after he was crucified by the Romans.

The burial bed is now enclosed in a small structure called the Edicule, which has been rebuilt at least four times. It was last rebuilt between 1808 and 1810 after it was destroyed by fire.

The structural integrity of the Edicule has been a concern for a long time, though, particularly after it suffered damage during an earthquake in 1927 prompting British authorities to install unsightly iron girders to hold up the structure in 1947.

Lack of financial resources have hindered the repair of the structure, but the Edicule and the interior tomb are now being restored by a team of 50 experts since funding was secured.

Exposure of the bed offered researchers with a rare chance to get a closer look at the original surface of what can be considered as the most sacred site among Christians. Analysis of the original rock may also give researchers a better perspective of the tomb chamber's original form as well as how the tomb became the focal point of Christian veneration since it was identified in A.D. 326.

National Technical University of Athens Chief Scientific Supervisor Antonia Moropoulu, who oversees the project, said that the techniques they currently use to document the monument will allow others to study their findings as if they themselves have seen the tomb of the Christian messiah.

"The marble covering of the tomb has been pulled back, and we were surprised by the amount of fill material beneath it," said archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert. "It will be a long scientific analysis, but we will finally be able to see the original rock surface on which, according to tradition, the body of Christ was laid."

Workers used pulley to slide open the marble slab, which had not been removed since 1555. Beneath the marble was a layer of debris, which hid another marble slab. The second slab is gray and has a small etching of a cross. Experts believe it dates back to 12th century. Scientists plan to use monitoring tools to study the surface.

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