Israeli archaeologists have given new life to the ancient stone room traditionally believed to be the site of Jesus’ Last Supper on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem.
The Cenacle’s ancient walls, worn-down surfaces, and poor illumination have made it hard for researchers to study its history. Thousands of Christian tourists go there every year to visit the possible location of the Last Supper. Jewish tradition says it was built above the burial site of King David.
Reuters reports that archeologists from Israel’s Antiquities Authority and European research institutions used laser technology and advanced photography to create incredibly detailed three-dimensional models of the hall.
“We managed to reach every corner of the building. We managed to create 3D models of this wonderful and sanctified place,” archaeologist Amit Re’em told Reuters of the project, which began in 2016. “We managed in one of the … holiest places in Jerusalem, to use this technology and this is a breakthrough.”
The technology helped uncover old artwork on the walls and decipher religious symbols. Re’em said they found symbols of the “Lion of Judah” and “Angus Dei”, a lamb that represents Jesus.
“It tells the story of this room,” Re’em said.
“It delivers the message of the Last (Supper) Room, Christ as a Messiah, as victorious, as a victim – and the lion, the lion is a symbol of the Davidic dynasty. They combine together in this room.”
In Christian tradition, it is more than the site of the Last Supper. It was also the room where early believers encountered the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
The early history of the site is uncertain but scholars believe the arch-filled hall was built by crusaders 800 years ago upon the remnants of an ancient Byzantine Church. They also believe early Jewish Christians worshipped there.
The building was renovated to its current form in 1335 by Franciscan monks.
Ilya Berkovich, a historian at the INZ research institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences who worked on the project, said the project opens “incredibly new horizons” with potential for future study.