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Archaeologists Share What the Upper Room Actually Looked Like

The Cenacle is a site in Jerusalem believed by many to be the location where Jesus shared the Last Supper with his disciples just before his death. Now, archaeologists are using 3D laser imaging to get a more accurate picture of what that Upper Room looked like originally.

“We managed, in one of the…holiest places in Jerusalem, to use this technology and this is a breakthrough,” archaeologist Amit Re’em told Reuters.

The Cenacle is an upper room located in David’s Tomb Compound, near Jerusalem’s walled Old City. Poor lighting and modifications of the room over the centuries have masked the original appearance of the room.

While the structure itself has been modified over the centuries, archaeologists believe they have been successful at stripping away the modifications with the help of 3D imaging. What lies beneath is of great interest and “tells the story” of the Upper Room, according to Re’em, who works with the Israel Antiquities Authority.

What Do the Images Show?

The images revealed “obscure” artwork such as the symbols of the Agnus Dei, a lamb that represents Christ, and the Lion of Judah. According to Re’em, the images together are significant. “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,” Re’em told Reuters.

The Cenacle Has Strong Significance in the Jewish and Christian Traditions

In addition to the disciples’ Passover meal with Jesus, the Cenacle is believed to be the location of many other significant events in the New Testament. It may even be the location the apostles used as a temporary residence in Jerusalem. It is traditionally thought to be one of the locations where the disciples saw Jesus after the resurrection, and the place where they gathered after Jesus ascended to heaven again. It could also be the place where Pentecost occurred, when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and other believers in the form of tongues of fire.

Even before New Testament times, though, the location has held significance. Jewish tradition maintains it is the burial place of King David, hence the name David’s Tomb Compound.

The imaging project started in 2016 and is a joint effort between Israel’s Antiquities Authority and European research institutions. According to Ilya Berkovich, a historian who worked on the project, it opens “incredibly new horizons.”

To see some of the images captured by the archaeologists, check out this video made by Reuters. You can also see more images the team captured here.