Views of the Old City of Jerusalem, taken from the Mount of Olives, with the Dome of the Rock inside the compound of Al-Aqsa (Al-Haram ash-Sharif). Below the city walls is a Muslim cemetery called Bab El Rahmeh cemetery, the slopes of the Mount of Olives in the foreground is the Jewish Mt of Olives cemetery.

Simon Norfolk

National Geographic’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre experience immerses families in the quest to investigate, document, and preserve the observed Tomb of Christ. Built on limestone, water eroded the foundation and years of candle soot marred the chapel’s interior. National Geographic documented the process of restoring and stabilizing the structure. This church is not the only place in peril. Looting, political unrest, erosion, or natural disasters threaten many historical sites worldwide.

Using new technologies, such as satellite imagery, LIDAR, and ground penetrating radar, scientists are able to discover lost cities engulfed by forest or explore the underwater remains of ancient civilizations that would have gone undetected and unstudied. While each site and its artifacts are unique to different ancient cultures, some features, like tombs, took similar forms across the world, and are still found in modern society. Here are some ideas, based on academic standards, to support and extend your child’s learning as they experience the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  

More Ideas Like This

The Bent and Red pyramids are a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Dahshur, Egypt.

Impacts of Environmental Factors

Many archaeological sites around the world, like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, are threatened by erosion from the air, water, or natural disaster. Talk with your child about how environmental factors such as rainfall, natural disasters, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions might harm historic landmarks such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  

Photographer Jodi Cobb frames a shot as a goat looks on.

Documenting History

Read about National Geographic Explorer Albert Yu-Min Lin's work to find and document archaeological sites in Mongolia, China, and Guatemala. As a family, choose an object or building of interest to research and document as a National Geographic Explorer. Describe the location and significance of your object or building in a short story, accompanied by a drawing or photograph.

In the Mediterranean Sea off the Coast of Turkey, a diver rises from a Byzantine wreck with a basket full of artifacts.

Underwater Archaeology

Archaeologists may work on land, underground, or undersea. Learn about National Geographic Emerging Explorer Guillermo de Anda’s search for remnants of Mayan civilization within cenotes and caves by reading Underwater Archaeologist: Dr. Guillermo de Anda. Talk with your child about the skills and knowledge useful to an underwater archaeologist and one that investigates sites on land. Use a map to find oceans, lakes, or rivers your child would be interested in exploring as an underwater archaeologist. 

A restoration worker examines some stonework in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's old city.

Tombs of Ancient Civilizations

Burial practices have taken many forms throughout history. In some ancient civilizations and current societies, tombs house the deceased. Explore and compare tombs used by the ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Mayan cultures. Use Google Earth to find the geographic location of the tombs of King Tut, Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, and Lady K’Abel.


Space Archaeology

The remains of ancient cities are sometimes hidden by dense forests or buried underground. Learn how scientists are using satellites to make discoveries by watching Space Archaeology. National Geographic Explorer Fellow Sarah Parcak wrote the book on space archaeology and uses the tool often in her work. Use Google Earth to visualize the distance between Parcak’s discoveries, such as Egyptian pyramids or a Viking settlement in North America. Satellite image ©2017 DigitalGlobe.

Members of the conservation team remove steel girders supporting the Edicule during restoration work, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City

Ethics of Archaeology

Excavation of archaeological sites is a common method used to uncover ancient structures and artifacts. Read How the Parthenon Lost Its Marbles to learn about the collection of marble reliefs and sculptures removed from the Parthenon in Greece currently displayed within the British Museum in England. With your child, research the controversy and discuss whether they think the Parthenon marbles belong in Greece or at the British Museum.