Jesus of Nazareth may be the subject of an image from the sixth century, found in an Egyptian structure underneath the ground.
University of Barcelona researchers believe the room in which the image was found may be a tomb. This could be the final resting site of several priests and a writer, based on items found around the underground structure. The location is roughly 26 feet wide and 13 feet long. Archaeologists removed nearly 50 tons of rocks and other debris to access the underground structure.
Josep Padró led the expedition, in an area he has spent 20 years exploring. Inside the tomb, he found several images, including one of a curly-haired man giving a blessing, while wearing a short tunic.
The Spanish researcher believes this one central figure may be a rendering of Jesus Christ, created 500 years after his death. Numerous inscription surround the picture, and archaeologists are scrambling to translate the characters to make a positive identification.
Within the underground grave site, two pens and a metallic pot full of ink is provided for the writer to continue their work. Examination of the scribe's body revealed the writer was around 17 years old at time of death.
The ancient room is located in the ancient city of Oxyrhynchus, roughly 100 miles south-southwest of Cairo. This city is considered one of the richest archeological sites ever discovered.
The discovery "has caused such as stir that even Egypt's Minister of Antiquities, Mohamed Ibrahim, has become personally involved. He broke the news himself in a press release which described the contents of the tombs," The Local, a Spanish newspaper, first reported.
At one time, a religious processional route ran between the Nile River and Osireion, a temple for worshipers of Osiris, the Egyptian God of the afterlife. Several structures in the city have been found, this path ran just past the underground structures.
Padró and his team are investigating the exact nature of the room, along with researchers from the University of Montpellier and the Catalan Egyptology Society.
They want to know if the structure was created just as a tomb, or if there may have been an additional purpose to the room.
A second structure was also discovered in the dig, attached to the scribe's resting place by a worn set of steps. For now, archaeologists can only make intelligent guesses about what may lie within the unopened room. It may be a temple, possibly another of a series dedicated to Osiris.