The Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem
In the next few days, as is the case every year, all eyes will be on the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem. But the deeper the studies on this ancient church go, the more surprises it seems to have in store, reports Vatican Insider.
A report on the condition of the Basilica, published on Monday in the last edition of the Journal of Cultural Heritage and on Terrasanta.net, has revealed that at least part of the wooden ceiling is made of cedar beams that date back to sometime between the 6th and 7th centuries.
This would have been the wood used in Byzantine times to rebuild the Constantinian basilica which had stood there previously. This dated back to the 4th century and was destroyed by the Persians.
The discovery indicates that those beams are among the most ancient in the entire Mediterranean, confirming the uniqueness of this Christian church, which was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage site last year.
The study was led by the scientific team co-ordinated by Professor Claudio Alessandri, a professor in the Department of Engineering at the Italian university of Ferrara and carried out in collaboration with the National Research Council of Italy and Trees and Timber Institute.
FULL STORY Bethlehem Basilica's wooden ceiling among Mediterranean's oldest (Vatican Insider)