The place was discovered by chance in 1867. Some Greek man dug in the rubble in hope to find a cistern. He found, instead, a hole full of skulls and bones. The man abandoned the place in fear. But in 1883, a famous British general and Bible scholar, Gordon, was impressed by a topography of a hill reminiscent of a Skull. He thought it might be the site of Golgotha. Later, the site was purchased in 1894 by the Christian association founded in Britain. Since then the association has been managing the site welcoming millions of pilgrims coming to experience the last events of the Gospel.
This tomb and perhaps the garden belonged to Joseph of Arimathea, the secret disciple of Jesus. He obtained a permission from Pontius Pilate to bury the body before the beginning of the Sabbath.
The possible evidence of the garden's existence is the water cistern that has been discovered at the site. This is the largest in Jerusalem rain water cistern holding over 900,000 liters ( over 200,000 gallons) of water. In 1924 there was also discovered a wine press. So these finds suggest that the garden was originally a vineyard, may be of that rich man, Joseph of Arimathea.
The tomb itself was unearthed in 1867, though its entrance had been damaged, perhaps by an earthquake. It is not a natural cave but is hewn out of solid rock, the tomb is obviously unfinished. The rolling stone though had not been found at the site. The groove in front of the tomb might not be for the stone.
"They came to a place called Golgotha, which means 'The Place of The Skull'. There they offered Jesus wine mixed with a bitter substance; but after tasting it, he would not drink it. they crucified Him and they divided His clothes among them by throwing dice." (Mt. 27:33)
Thousands of people visit this site annually. Many of them discover some deeper and more profound understanding of the events that had happened 2000 years ago. In the Evangelical Christian circles, the place is called the Resurrection Garden. In the scientific circles they call it "Gordon's Golgotha".
There's a dispute among the archaeologists and historians about whether this is a real place of Jesus' crucifixion. There's also a dispute about accepted by most of the churches the Holy Sepulcher site which is traditionally believed to be the Golgotha. We are going to discuss this subject without trying to settle the dispute.
Many Bible scholars observed that Gordon's Golgotha bears remarkable resemblance with the Gospel's description of the site. It says the place was situated outside the city gate:
"Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate" (Heb.13,12 NKJ).
And the Garden also is just outside the Damascus Gate of the Old City. The Damascus gate did not change its location since the ancient times. According to the Scripture the place also was near the city:
"Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin." (John 19, 20)
More likely it was a noisy open site by a busy and lively road. And indeed, an ancient road to Damascus passed in vicinity of the Garden.
There was a garden in the area of the crucifixion, that's how apostle John describes it:
"Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid." (John 19, 41)
The exact dating of the tomb is disputed. Though some features fit the Bible narrative:
The tomb is cut of the rock, that is in conformity with the passage:
"and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed" (Mt.27:60)
According to the Gospel at the place of burial there was a garden and Mary mistakenly identifies Jesus with the gardener:
"She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away" (John 20:15). Though, in the light of the modern research, the identification of the tomb made by renown Cathleen Kenyon was proved wrong later. She thought the tomb belonged to the 1-St AD century. But it is typical to the earlier 1-St Temple Period. The secondary use of the tomb would contradict the Gospel narrative:
"Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid." (John 19:41) The groove is considered today to be a part of channel system of the Crusaders period, built for providing water to the garden.