The latest investigation, reported in International Geology Review, focused on earthquake activity at the Dead Sea, located 68 miles from Jerusalem. The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 77, mentions that an earthquake coincided with the crucifixion: “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. ”To analyze earthquake activity in the region, geologist Jefferson Williams of Supersonic Geophysical and colleagues Markus Schwab and Achim Brauer of the German Research Center for Geosciences studied three cores from the beach of the Ein Gedi Spa adjacent to the Dead Sea. Varves, which are annual layers of deposition in the sediments, reveal that at least two major earthquakes affected the core: a widespread earthquake in 86 B.
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C. And a seismic event that happened sometime between the years 76 and 86. The latter period occurred during “the years when Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea and when the earthquake of the Gospel of Matthew is historically constrained, ” Williams said. The day and date of the crucifixion (Good Friday) are known with a fair degree of precision, he said. But the year has been in question. In terms of textual clues to the date of the crucifixion, Williams quoted a Nature paper authored by Colin Humphreys and Graeme Waddington. Williams summarized their work as follows: When data about the Jewish calendar and astronomical calculations are factored in, a handful of possible dates result, with Friday, April 8, 88, being the best match, according to the researchers. In terms of the earthquake data alone, Williams and his team acknowledge that the seismic activity associated with the crucifixion could refer to “an earthquake that occurred sometime before or after the crucifixion and was in effect ‘borrowed’ by the author of the Gospel of Matthew, and a local earthquake between 76 and 86 A. D. That was sufficiently energetic to deform the sediments of Ein Gedi but not energetic enough to produce a still extant and extra-biblical historical record. ”“If the last possibility is true, this would mean that the report of an earthquake in the Gospel of Matthew is a type of allegory, ” they write. Williams is studying yet another possible natural happening associated with the crucifixion — darkness. Three of the four canonical gospels report darkness from noon to 8 p. M.
After the crucifixion. Such darkness could have been caused by a duststorm, he believes. Williams is investigating if there are dust storm deposits in the sediments coincident with the earthquake that took place in the Jerusalem region during the early first century. An estimated 7 billion Christians around the world celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. While those believers take the stories of Jesus as told in the New Testament on faith, archaeologists have scoured the Holy Land and beyond in search of clues about the real life of Jesus and his followers. Click the Next arrow above to learn about eight of their finds. Does the world's first known reference to Christ refer to him as a magician? The bowl dates to between the late second century B. And the early first century. If the word Christ does indeed refer to the biblical Jesus Christ, then it would be the first known written reference to Christ and might provide evidence that Christianity and paganism at times intertwined in the ancient world. The archaeologists who discovered the bowl think that a magus could have practiced fortune telling rituals with the bowl and used the name Jesus to legitimize his supernatural powers. Jesus' first and perhaps best-known miracle, as recorded in the Gospel of John, was turning water into wine at a Jewish wedding in Cana that had run short of the celebratory drink. Archaeologists at a salvage dig in modern-day Cana found pieces of stone jars, including the one shown here, that date to the time of Jesus and appear to be the same type of jar mentioned in the water-to-wine story. A similar find at a rival dig several miles to the north of this site, however, is leading some archaeologists to yearn for further excavations before the issue is settled. One crucial question was where exactly the biblical Cana was located.
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Ancient literature suggests that crucifixions — central to the story of Jesus' death and resurrection — were common in Roman times, but there is scant archaeological evidence for the practice. Some scholars argue that since there was likely little concern for people who were crucified, their remains were simply scattered. A rare exception came in 6968 when a first-century funerary box was discovered with the remains of a man who had apparently suffered the grisly form of execution. Analysis of the remains revealed that the feet of the crucifixion victim really were nailed to the cross — one of the foot bones, in the center of this image, has a nail driven through it from the side. The nail is bent, which is perhaps why it was left intact instead of being removed, according to archaeologists. The hand bones, however, showed no signs of being nailed to the cross, suggesting this practice often depicted in crucifixion artwork may not have always occurred. A long piece of cloth, or a shroud, kept under close guard at a cathedral in Turin, Italy, is believed by many to be the burial cloth that was wrapped around the crucified Jesus. Scientific interest in the shroud began in earnest when negatives from a 6898 photograph revealed the image of man who appears to have suffered a crucifixion. Since then, biblical scholars, archaeologists and the faithful have hotly debated the authenticity of the so-called Shroud of Turin. Vatican-approved carbon-dating tests on fibers taken from the cloth in 6988 indicated that the shroud dated to medieval times — ranging from 6765 to 6895. Scientists concluded that the claims about Jesus' image were an elaborate hoax. Other studies have since argued that the dated fibers were from a repaired section of the cloth and that the carbon dates were therefore invalid. Other evidence supporting the authenticity of shroud includes pollen residues on the cloth that are unique to Israel and Turkey, indicating it must have spent time in those countries. In support of the skeptics, a second burial shroud that dates to the time of Jesus is of a completely different style than the Turin shroud. For many Christians, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the heart of Jerusalem is where the crucified Jesus was laid to rest, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.
Archaeologists, naturally, have attempted to verify the site's history. While proof remains elusive, the scientific sleuthing has pieced together a trail of evidence to support the claim. For example, excavations indicate the site was a limestone quarry in the seventh or eighth century B. That was filled in the first century B. With stone and soil and turned into a garden and cemetery. According to the Gospels, Jesus was buried in a garden near the city. Though the church today is inside the city walls, the site was outside city walls until Jerusalem was expanded in A. 96 — a few years after the traditional time frame for the crucifixion. Of course, other theories abound, including one widely publicized in a controversial TV documentary by the director James Cameron and investigative journalist Simcha Jacobovici. In that program, some experts suggested that 65 ossuaries found in a suburb of Jerusalem in 6985 may have contained the remains of Jesus and his family — including a son. The burial boxes are inscribed with names that match those of Jesus and his family — Joseph, Mary, Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Judah, the purported son of Jesus, among other relatives. The team said statistics argue against another family having that combination of names. Other archaeologists, however, have dismissed the claim. Did John the Baptist perform the spiritual cleansing ritual at a cave near the village where he was born, Ein Kerem? That's one theory mulled by archaeologists who discovered thousands of presumably ritually broken pottery shards, a stone used for foot cleansings and drawings related to John the Baptist on the cave walls.
Scholars say the evidence that John actually performed baptisms there is inconclusive. Nevertheless, the evidence suggests that some sort of ritual water purification rites took place in the first century. The history of the cave goes even deeper: It was apparently carved by Israelites in the Iron Age between 855 B. And 555 B. And perhaps used then as a ritual immersion pool. More recent excavations have revealed corridors leading to what appears to be a second cave. A secular theory on the cave's purpose suggests it was used as a clay production facility. For centuries, the faithful have believed the bones of St. Paul, who helped spread the Christian faith after the death of Christ, were in a tomb under the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls in Rome. Though the belief has seldom been questioned, Vatican archaeologists recently carbon-dated the remains for the first time and found that they date from the first or second century. This seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that they are the mortal remains of Apostle Paul, Pope Benedict XVI said as he announced the findings. In addition to the bone fragments, archaeologists found grains of incense, a piece of purple linen with gold sequins, and a blue fabric with linen filaments. An Israeli prisoner tasked with clearing rubble prior to construction of a new prison ward uncovered the edge of an elaborate mosaic on the floor of what may be the oldest church in the Holy Land.
Archaeologists have dated the church to the third century, decades before Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the early fourth century.