"Researchers have continued their investigation into the site where the body of Jesus Christ is traditionally believed to have been buried, and their preliminary findings appear to confirm that portions of the tomb are still present today, having survived centuries of damage, destruction, and reconstruction of the surrounding Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City.
The most venerated site in the Christian world, the tomb today consists of a limestone shelf or burial bed that was hewn from the wall of a cave. Since at least 1555, and most likely centuries earlier, the burial bed has been covered in marble cladding, allegedly to prevent eager pilgrims from removing bits of the original rock as souvenirs.
When the marble cladding was first removed on the night of October 26, an initial inspection by the conservation team from the National Technical University of Athens showed only a layer of fill material underneath. However, as researchers continued their nonstop work over the course of 60 hours, another marble slab with a cross carved into its surface was exposed. By the night of October 28, just hours before the tomb was to be resealed, the original limestone burial bed was revealed intact." National Geographic Society
Having been in the edicule many times, including once on the company of a Chief of Staff of the IDF (Amnon Lipkin-Shahak), I find this very interesting.
The basilica of the Holy Sepulchre is a purpose built building constructed in the time of the Kingdom of Jerusalem to cover the sites of the rocky knob of Golgotha and the nearby site of the "rock cut tomb." There had earlier been a much larger church built in the time of Constantine the Great. This had been destroyed by the Fatimid Caliph Hakim the Mad who was the Shia ruler of Egypt and Palestine. Hakim had also destroyed a previous version of the edicule by having workmen break it down with sledge hammers. That being the case there was little expectation that anything would be left of the tomb itself. This is a massive surprise.
There is a rival tomb site outside the medieval walls of Jerusalem. Evangelical Christians find the basilica to be too medieval for their taste and prefer the other site. I find the archaeology that supports the basilica as the site of the crucifixion and entombment to be convincing. Much of it was done by very competent and well trained Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land. In recent years a lot of secular European scholars have been involved and they seem to be unanimous in accepting the basilica as the correct site.
At the time of Jesus the site was a quarry just outside the walls of the city. Several hillocks of stone had been left standing in the quarry because of the poor quality of the stone in them. Some of these had been made into stone tombs for well off Jews. There were also more tombs carved into the perimeter of the depressed area that was the quarry. Those are still there and I have explored a good many of them. One of the existing tombs is said to have been donated by a sympathizer for Jesus' burial. One of the stone hillocks was used by the Romans for crucifixions. For this purpose they cut square shafts in the top so that the butt of a cross could be put in them. Fifty years or so after the death of Jesus the walls of Jerusalem were expanded and the site was then within the walls. After the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity, Constantine built his immense church on the site. In the process, the stone walls of the tomb were trimmed back as was the hill of Golgotha. That was done to make the site more convenient architecturally. A small building was put up over what remained of the tomb. This was the first of four edicules.
The basilica was under the sole control of the RC Church and the Franciscans from the time of the Ayyubids until the Ottoman government decided in the 18th Century to divide control among its various Christian dhimmi populations.
I am a member of the papally protected order of chivalry that is entrusted with the welfare of the basilica and other Christian interests in Holy Land. pl