The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem is believed by many to be the site of the crucifixion, burial and
resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Located right outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls, by Damascus Gate, the Garden Tomb is one of
Jerusalem’s most beautiful and spiritual sites. Although it is accepted by all that Jesus was crucified and
buried in Jerusalem, different denominations within Christianity differ in regard to the exact location of
these fateful events.
Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Coptic Christians point to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which
stands within the Old City Walls, as the true site of the Calvary, or ‘Golgotha’, upon which Christ’s was
crucified and from whence He rose. However, many Protestant, Evangelist and Anglican Christians, as
well as many scholars, believe this site to be where the Garden Tomb lies today.
Up to the 19th century the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was considered to be the site of the Calvary. As
archeology and science progressed, questions arose regarding whether the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
is the actual site of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Around 1882, the British General Charles
Gordon began making a case that the traditional Roman Catholic location of the Holy Sepulchre is
incorrect and that in fact the actual location of Calvary, the “Skull Hill” and the tomb of Jesus is outside
the Old City walls to the east by Damascus Gate.
Golgotha – The Calvary
The Calvary, the hill upon which Jesus was crucified, is also referred to in the canonical gospels
as ‘Golgotha’, which is Hebrew and Aramaic for the word ‘Skull’. As it is written in the Book of John,
The exact origin of the name is unclear. However, many point to the resemblance of the hill adjacent to
the Garden Tomb, to the shape of human skull. This serves as a strengthening factor in the plausibility
of this hill as being the actual hill of the Calvary where Christ was crucified and the Garden Tomb as the
site of His burial and resurrection.
In addition to the skull-like shape of the hill several other factors, which coincide with the biblical
depictions of the crucifixion, support the contention that this is the actual site of the crucifixion of Jesus:
First, the hill is located on a central road that once connected Jerusalem with Nebulous and Damascus.
The Roman Empire traditionally crucified offenders on main roads and market places to instill fear and
reverence. Second, the hill is located nearby a first century-period tomb and wine press. Finally, it is
located outside the Second Temple period city walls, which is an important factor since according to
Jewish custom it is prohibited to bury the deceased within the city walls and so it is less likely that the
tomb of Christ is where the Holy Sepulchre Church stands today.
The Garden and the Tomb
There is little doubt that the Tomb within the Garden Tomb belonged to a wealthy man who lived
sometime around the first century. The discovery of an ancient cistern and wine press also indicate that
this location was once a garden, as Christ’s burial site was described to be.
These facts strengthen the claim that this is the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea who donated his own
tomb, which lay in a garden, for the burial of Jesus. As it is written in the book of John, chapter 19:
In addition to the evidence supporting the claim that this may be the tomb of Christ from whence He
rose, there are several more elements within this Tomb which support the claim:
First, the entrance to the tomb is low which coincides with the Gospels depiction of how the disciples
of Jesus had to bend as they entered the chamber of the Tomb. Second a deep ridge in front of the
tomb suggests that a large, round stone was once rolled over the opening of the tomb to seal it, as is
described in the gospels.
The Tomb of Christ
This is believed by many Protestant, Evangelists and Anglican Christians to be the tomb of Jesus Christ
from whence He rose. The farther burial niche inside the burial chamber is visible from the outside
which supports the Gospel texts which describe the Tomb of Jesus as visible from the outside, as it is
written in the Book of John Chapter 20:
The tomb includes two burial niches and an entrance space which is known as the ‘Weeping Chamber’.
The painted red cross on the wall between the two tomb niches was added sometime around the
Byzantine and Crusader periods, most probably as part of Christian worship customs of the time. Over the years the Tomb suffered damage due to earthquakes. Unfortunately, no trace of the original rolling
stone was found in 1867 when the tomb was re-excavated.
Much of the Garden’s characteristics and archeological findings support the claim that this is the actual
site of Christ’s crucifixion, burial & resurrection: The tomb itself is carved in rock, includes a rolling-stone
ridge, a weeping chamber and is located within a garden which belonged to a wealthy man during the
times of Jesus – all characteristics described in the gospels. Moreover, adjacent to the garden is a hill
that resembles a human skull which could serve as the explanation for the Hebrew name of the Calvary
Notwithstanding, the custodians of the Garden Tomb do not claim that this is undeniably the site of
Christ’s crucifixion, burial & resurrection. More importantly, they ask that the Garden Tomb be a place
of gathering, reflection and faith over the teachings and promise of eternal life for those who accept
Jesus as their savior.