A team of British scholars has set the stage for Christian leaders to open what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus, hidden from public view for centuries.

The group, led by Martin Biddle, professor of medieval archaeology at the University of Oxford, completed a survey on Friday of the tomb and its surroundings.The completion of this survey, which has taken almost 10 years, now leaves the way open for exploratory digging of the area and eventual restoration of the tomb inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, according to Biddle. The church and tomb are widely regarded as one of the most important sites in Christendom.

The church, inside Jerusalem's walled Old City, is believed by many Christians to have been built on the site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection. The site is also known as the Church of the Anastasis (Resurrection).

The tomb lies below the floor of the church's rotunda. An "edicule" (little house) has been erected over the spot where the tomb is located.

Biddle told ENI that he was certain that before the start of the new millennium the floor of the rotunda would be dug up to expose the tomb.