Spring, 33AD Crucifixion, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, outside the city walls of Jerusalem.
135AD A Roman temple platform was erected on the site of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, dedicated to Juno, Jupiter and Minerva. Some sources say it was Hadrian's Temple of Aphrodite.
325AD Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, after his conversion to Christianity earlier in the century, sent his mother, Queen Helena, to the Holy Land to find and consecrate the birthplace of Jesus, the site of his preaching on the Mount of Olives, the site of his crucifixion at Golgotha and the tomb in which he was buried. Helena found a site which local Christians had venerated for three centuries, where the Roman temple platform now stood.
326AD Bishop Macarius of Jerusalem had identified the site for Helena. It is believed that the early Christian community in Jerusalem had retained a memory of the location of the tomb of Christ until Macarius' time. Helena ordered the destruction of the temple site and an ancient quarry was uncovered by the workers. Golgotha projected from the east and a tomb was found in the western side, as spoken of in the Gospel of John. According to Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea at this time and eyewitness to the removal of the Roman temple, "the work was carried out, and, as layer after layer of the subsoil came into view, the venerable and most holy memorial of the Savior's resurrection, beyond all our hopes, came into view, the holy of holies, the cave by its very existence bearing clearer testimony to the resurrection of the Savior than any words." Constantine's engineers began to cut the cliff away over and around the tomb, which was left as a small stone house. Building work began on a large basilica.
17 September 335 After the completion of building, the basilica was dedicated. Work began on a rotunda over the tomb, called the Dome of the Anastasis, or "Resurrection", completed by the end of the century, around 390AD. The original Constantine structure was therefore composed of the rotunda, the courtyard with the rock of Calvary under the baldachino in the south-west corner, and a five aisle basilica whose doors opened onto a colonnaded atrium. Steps led down from there to the Cardo Maximus, today known as the Suq Khan az-Zeit.
6 May 614 The Persians invaded Jerusalem and set fire to the church. Although the roof and furnishings were destroyed, the basic structure remained intact.
638 Modestus, Abbot of the Monastery of St. Theodosius in the Judean desert, completed repairs of the church, the dome replaced by a timber cone.
746 An earthquake causes structural damage to the dome.
810 Earthquake loosened structural timbers.
967 Church pillaged and woodwork set on fire.
976 Rotunda repaired by the Fatimids.
18 October 1009 The end came for the Constantine structure, when the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim ordered its systematic destruction. Masons stripped the courses from the walls, stopping when only rubble lay at their feet. The tomb of Christ was pounded to dust. The millenium of the death of Christ in 1033 was celebrated in the ruins.
1034 Further severe damage by an earthquake.
1048 The rotunda and tomb were rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Constantine Monomachus, using 4th century foundations and the same positions for 10 circular pillars, two double pillars, and six square pillars. The dome was rebuilt as a timber cone with an open top, formed of a double skin vault of Cypress beams and covered in lead. Artistic representations of the original tomb appeared as models, on decorated flasks, ivories, descriptions and sketches, which still exist today.
15 July 1099 The Crusaders occupied Jerusalem, coming to the Holy Sepulchre to sing Te Dium, for their conquest. Anticipating a large number of pilgrims from Europe, they realised the space would be too small. Work began on a galleried Romanesque church over the courtyard.
15 July 1149 Crusaders dedicate their church, added to existing rotunda, bringing Calvary into a building for the first time. Today, this is the Catholikon of the Greek Orthadox. The Crusaders also created the crypt of St. Helena and bell tower, giving the Holy Sepulchre the same shape it has today.
1542 Suleiman the Magnificent (Ottoman), built present walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.
1555 The tomb was rebuilt "from the first foundations" by the Franciscan Boniface of Ragusa, to strengthen the structure and repair damage caused during five centuries of pilgrimage.
1719 Major repairs carried out to the dome by the Latins (Franciscans). The top opening was increased to a 10 meter diameter and covered with netting. The present bell tower was reduced in height.
12 September 1808 Fire broke out in the chapels of the rotunda and spread through the whole building. The area of greatest damage was where the Catholikon joined the rotunda. Pillars were severely damaged as limestone was calcinated by the heat, the result a serious weakening. Plaster casing was rapidly applied as protection. The timber dome was entirely burnt. Damage to the tomb incurred when the dome fell. Repairs were completed in 2 years, undertaken by the Orthodox and Latin religious communities. Internal drum of rotunda radically altered by Greek architect Comminos of Mytilene between 1809-10, but dome itself little changed in appearance. The present version of the tomb dates from this period.
1834 Hundreds of worshippers trampled to death during ceremony of the Holy Fire. Structure damaged.
1836 Dome in danger of collapse and repair work carried out. Expense shared by Turkey, Russia and France.
1852 The Ottoman Sultan, in the face of conflicting claims of possession of the Holy Sepulchre, particularly from France and Russia, issued an order that the existing arrangements of custodianship should prevail. This became known as the "Status Quo", and remains to this day, having been ratified by the various administrations and occupiers of the Holy Land since 1855. Disputes still arise as the "existing arrangements" of 1852 were never clearly defined.
1868 Major fire destroyed scrollwork on inside of dome.
1870 Russian design and construction began, of wrought-iron arches in lattice form, covered by a timber boarding, with mortar inner and outer shells. Lead covered. The imposition of massive pillars and store rooms reduced the diameter of the rotunda from 30 to 20 meters. This dome structure still exists today.
1927 Severe earthquake. Major cracks in structure. Deterioration of mortar used in 12th century building identified. Subsidence and buckling had taken place in dome because of the immense weight of the two shells. The foundations were reported to be sound in the main part.
1934/35* Scaffold and steel shoring erected by British Mandate authorities to shore up southern facade of tomb and rotunda.
1947/49* Major fire in upper gallery of rotunda. Lead covering burnt off. Structural damage to wrought-iron trusses. Thin mortar screed with chicken wire formed to weatherproof dome, but major corrosion attack started on iron trusses.
1948 Shelling, during the 1948 war, destroyed the external part of the rotunda.
1952 Reconstruction began of the Church of the Resurrection. Subsequent advisory work taken over by Common technical bureau. Joint plan of action agreed on in 1959. All lower pillars to be replaced.
1967 Scaffold and steel shoring removed.
1978 The three religious communities administering the Holy Sepulchre - the Greek Orthodox, the Latin (Franciscans) and the Armenian Orthodox - agreed to reinforce the framework in the void of the dome and to plaster the inner surface.
1979 Rebuilding of dome commenced, including renovation of existing iron arches.
1980 New lead-covered concrete dome completed, coinciding with final pillar replacement.
17 August 1994 Diodorus I, Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Rev. Giuseppe Nazzaro, O.F.M. Custos of the Holy Land, and Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Apostolic Patriarch of Jerusalem, sign an historic agreement to restore the dome. This signalled the beginning of a new era of cooperation between the three custodians. The agreement was the pinnacle of numerous meetings and discussions concerning the design of the decoration and the implementation of the project. Funding for the project was made possible by a benefactor from the United States.
2 January 1997 The scaffolding from the latest renovations now removed, the sheet covering the newly decorated dome will be unveiled for the first time to the public, shining light on the tomb of Christ that has remained enveloped in darkness since the 1970s. The design adorning the tomb is striking, embodying common attributes of the three communities and representing the glory of God enveloping the risen Christ.