Turkish Archaeologists Claim To Have Dug Up Santa Claus' Tomb

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Turkish archaeologists have made millions of children hopeful by claiming to have dug up the likely burial place of the Greek Bishop Saint Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus.

Turkish Archaeologists Claim To Have Dug Up Santa Claus' Tomb
St Nicholas Church in Antalya, where Saint Nicholas is believed to have been born. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Turkish archaeologists have made millions of children hopeful by claiming to have dug up the likely burial place of the Greek Bishop Saint Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus.


Surveys have revealed an intact temple and burial grounds under St Nicholas church in the province of Antalya, the place where he's believed to have been born, as archaeologists informed the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.


According to Cemil Karabayram, director of surveying and monuments in Antalya:


“We have obtained very good results, but the real work starts now. We will reach the ground, and maybe we will find the untouched body of Saint Nicholas.”


Admired and adored for his gift-giving and aid to the poor, the fourth-century saint was the one who gave rise to the legend of Santa Claus.


Now the church in Demre district in Antalya, close to his birthplace, has been restored and draws many tourists. Demre is built on the ruins of Myra, the town where Saint Nicholas, revered by a lot of denominations in Christianity, is thought to have lived.


Turkish Archaeologists Claim To Have Dug Up Santa Claus' Tomb
Fresco depicting Saint Nicholas of Bari. Photograph: F Dagli Orti/De Agostini/Getty

It had been believed that Saint Nicholas' remains were transferred from Demre by sailors who smuggled them to the town of Bari in Italy, where the St Nicholas Basilica stands until now.


According to that version of events, Saint Nicholas' remains were transferred to Bari as parts of the Byzantine empire. 700 years after his death, Turkey fell to Muslim invaders around the First Crusade. Venice also competed to host Saint Nicholas' body and now contains relics belonging to the saint.


Documents obtained from the area allowed Turkish archaeologists to believe the remains were of a local priest instead of the saint, whose body might still be within the temple complex. The theft possibly took place after the church was burned down and was being restored again.


The archaeologists lately began the fresh surveys, uncovering the temple below the modern church by using ground-penetrating radars. They say the temple was almost intact though inaccessible because of the presence of stone reliefs and mosaics that had to be preserved.


Excavation work will let scholars access the temple grounds under the church to confirm whether it still holds Nicholas’s body.


The legend of Sinterklaas in the Netherlands morphed into Santa Claus and became popular in the US by Dutch immigrants to the colonies.


Reference: The Guardian

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Thinking Humanity: Turkish Archaeologists Claim To Have Dug Up Santa Claus' Tomb
Turkish Archaeologists Claim To Have Dug Up Santa Claus' Tomb
Turkish archaeologists have made millions of children hopeful by claiming to have dug up the likely burial place of the Greek Bishop Saint Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus.
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