Wednesday November 20, 2019

Archaeologists Recreate Arched Stone Built Hall- “Jesus’ Last Supper” Using Laser Scanners

The Cenacle, a popular site for pilgrims near Jerusalem's walled Old City, has ancient, worn surfaces and poor illumination, hampering a study of its history

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A still image taken from handout video footage shows a 3D model of the Cenacle, a hall revered by Christians as the site of the Last Supper, in Mount Zion near Jerusalem's Old City. (Science and Technology in Archaeology and Culture, the Cyprus Institute). VOA

The arched stone-built hall in Jerusalem venerated by Christians as the site of Jesus’ Last Supper has been digitally recreated by archaeologists using laser scanners and advanced photography.

The Cenacle, a popular site for pilgrims near Jerusalem’s walled Old City, has ancient, worn surfaces and poor illumination, hampering a study of its history.  The project helped highlight obscure artwork and decipher some theological aspects of the second-floor room, built above what Jewish tradition says is the burial site of King David.

So researchers from Israel’s Antiquities Authority and European research institutions used laser technology and advanced photographic techniques to create richly detailed three-dimensional models of the hall built in the Crusader era.

“We managed, in one of the… holiest places in Jerusalem, to use this technology and this is a breakthrough,” Amit Re’em, Jerusalem district archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority, told Reuters of the project, which began in 2016.

last supper, laser, 3D
Some archaeologists have questioned whether the room is the actual venue of the Last Supper, the final meal which the New Testament says Jesus shared with disciples before his crucifixion. VOA

Re’em pointed to reliefs of what he described as the symbols of the “Agnus Dei,” a lamb that is an emblem of Christ, and the “Lion of Judah” on keystones in the hall’s vaulted ceiling.

“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.”

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Some archaeologists have questioned whether the room is the actual venue of the Last Supper, the final meal which the New Testament says Jesus shared with disciples before his crucifixion.

Ilya Berkovich, a historian at the INZ research institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences who worked on the project, said the endeavor opens “incredibly new horizons” with enormous potential. (VOA)

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“The Team Was Treated Relatively Well” During Police Questioning, U.S. Christians Held in Laos

Throughout their period of detention, “the team was treated relatively well,” Vision Beyond Borders said in a recent statement. 

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Christian villagers in Laos are shown in an undated photo. RFA

Three U.S. citizens held in Laos last month for handing out religious tracts were “treated well” during questioning by police, but Lao Christians still face persecution at the hands of state authorities, the missionary group to which the three belong said this week.

“Yes, they were treated well, and we appreciate that,” Eric Blievernicht, operations manager for the Wyoming-based group Vision Beyond Borders, told RFA’s Lao Service on Thursday in a brief telephone interview.

“They‘re home safe now, and they’re looking forward to continuing their ministry,” Blievernicht said.

The three volunteers—identified by their given names, Wayne, Autumn, and Joseph—were picked up by police in a scenic corner of northern Laos’ Luang Namtha province on April 8 after handing out religious materials to villagers, a policeman and a witness told RFA in an earlier report.

Authorities then seized their passports and took them to a guesthouse in the provincial capital, about 60 kms (36 miles) from where they had been arrested, but allowed them free movement of their quarters and the surrounding village, and the three were deported to Thailand 10 days later.

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In a report released April 29, the bipartisan U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) placed Laos on its Tier 2 Watch List for what it called continuing serious abuses of religious freedoms. Pixabay

Throughout their period of detention, “the team was treated relatively well,” Vision Beyond Borders said in a recent statement.

“They were never hollered at, the officials never laid a hand on them, and they even provided bottled water when the team was at the [police] station,” the missionary group, which distributes bibles and recordings of religious messages around the world, said.

Speaking to RFA, Blievernight said however that Lao Christians themselves face greater difficulties every day, with Lao authorities “harassing Christians and breaking up meetings and making it difficult for them to gather.”

“So we’re continuing to pray for Laos and want to do whatever we can to support the churches there,” he said.

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Though the one-party communist state’s constitution “ostensibly protects its people’s inherent right to religious freedom,” regulations controlling religious observance in Laos are vaguely worded and open to interpretation by local authorities, USCIRF said. Pixabay

‘Continuing serious abuses’

In a report released April 29, the bipartisan U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) placed Laos on its Tier 2 Watch List for what it called continuing serious abuses of religious freedoms.

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Though the one-party communist state’s constitution “ostensibly protects its people’s inherent right to religious freedom,” regulations controlling religious observance in Laos are vaguely worded and open to interpretation by local authorities, USCIRF said.

“Some Lao authorities remained deeply suspicious of Christians, sometimes resulting in social exclusion, harassment, and arbitrary detention by law enforcement officials,” the rights group said, adding that it had received reports throughout 2018 of persecution of Christians in Savannakhet, “a province known for its religious intolerance.” (RFA)