Garo Nalbandian

Beneath the rotunda of the Holy Sepulchre Church lies a pair of narrow, horizontal burial shafts (kokhim in Hebrew). Originally they were the innermost part of a catacomb carved into the west wall of an ancient limestone quarry that had fallen into disuse. In the second century A.D., the Roman emperor Hadrian filled the quarry to create a level surface for the Capitoline temple. The emperor Constantine, in the fourth century A.D., cleared the fill to bedrock in order to reveal the outermost chamber of the catacomb, which he identified as the tomb of Jesus. The Roman engineers isolated this chamber by cutting away the rock all around it, thereby destroying all but the kokhim tombs in the inner catacomb.