The medieval cave originally believed to house the remains of Jesus Christ has been re-opened for the first time in centuries.
According to archaeologist-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, Fredrik Hiebert, conservationists from the University of Athens conducting a conservation project to maintain the shrine surrounding the tomb - The Holy Edicule - realized that they'd need to access the tomb; something that hasn't happened in about 200 years.
According to the experienced conservation team, the original cave structure is encased like a Russian nesting doll, with different layers of slabs from the 19th century, 15th century, and 12th century which cover the original rock wall.
The Holy Edicule itself is situated within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (also know as the Church of the Resurrection), which was built to cover two different holy sites, the tomb of Christ's burial and Golgotha's Rock.
According to Eusebius of Caesarea, Roman Emperor Adrian built a temple to Aphrodite in the 2nd century AD. Then first Christian Emperor, Constantine the Great, ordered that it be replaced with a church.
Due to a fire that destroyed the then Edicule structure, the current Edicule structure is only about 200 years old and therefore researchers don't intend to find anything new in this current excavation.
Three sects currently manage the site, the Roman Catholic Church, the Armenian Orthodox Church, and Greek Orthodox Church. It has taken 50 years to agree on methods and funding ($4 million for the entire conservation project).