Jerusalem Report: Inscription Found Under the Church Of The Holy Sepulcher -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (First Run)
Volume: BSP 03:2 (Spring 1974)
Article: Jerusalem Report: Inscription Found Under the Church Of The Holy Sepulcher
Author: Anonymous

Jerusalem Report:
Inscription Found Under the Church Of The Holy Sepulcher

Archaeological explorations conducted during restoration of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher have revealed some intriguing new insights into the history of the site.

Reconstruction of the church is nearly complete after 26 years of interreligious wrangling, 14 years of actual work, and expenditures of over $3 million. More than a third of the church has been rebuilt in the most ambitious restoration since the time of the Crusaders.

Three religious communities—Armenian, Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic—control most of the huge church. Three smaller groups—the Syrians, Copts, and Abyssinians—have lesser rights to perform ceremonies in various portions of the church. Altogether, some 150 priests of the six different religions live in monasteries and makeshift housing nestled in, around, and over the church.

Church Rebuilt Several Times

Embracing the traditional site of Golgotha, or Calvary, the first Church of the Holy Sepulcher was completed in A.D. 335 on the ruins of Hadrian’s Forum by the Emperor Constantine. A site of constant bloody struggle, the church was razed in part several times and then rebuilt most notably by the Emperor Constantine Monomachus in 1048, the Crusaders in the 12th century, and the Greeks in 1808–1810 after a disastrous fire. The structure was heavily damaged by a major earthquake in 1927.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, with scaffolding in place for restoration work.

The architects who are directing the work have tried to be faithful to the original design of Constantine and to the changes made by the Crusaders. “What it lacks in architectural integrity it makes up in authenticity,” said Edouard Utudjian, the Paris architect who directed the renovations in the Armenian section.

Ancient Temple Theorized

Workmen clearing the subterranean vault of the eastern end of the church stumbled onto a discovery of potentially major significance. In the midst of the accumulated debris of 18 centuries, two

Armenian workmen uncovered a large stone bearing a finely carved drawing of a sailing ship and an inscription to Isis, the ancient Egyptian goddess of motherhood and fertility.

The stone has been dated to the second century after Christ and therefore is thought to be part of the pagan temple and forum constructed on the site in A.D. 135 by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in an unsuccessful effort to discourage early Christian worship at...

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