Turkish archaeologists are claiming to have uncovered the burial place of a very unlikely person.
Surveys have uncovered an intact temple and burial grounds below Saint Nicholas Church in the province of Antalya, Turkey.
“We have obtained very good results but the real work begins now,” said Cemil Karabayram, the director of surveying and monuments in Antalya. “We will reach the crypt soon and maybe find the tomb of Santa Claus, as he is called in English.”
In recent years, the church in Antalya has been restored and draws many visitors.
“Demre is built on the ruins of Myra, the city where Saint Nicholas, revered by many denominations in Christianity, is believed to have lived,” said Karabayram.
It had been thought that the remains of Saint Nicholas were transferred from Demre by sailors who smuggled them to the city of Bari in Italy, where the Saint Nicholas Basilica still stands.
According to that particular version of history, approximately 700 years after his death, the remains of Saint Nicholas were transferred to Bari as parts of the Byzantine empire in modern-day Turkey fell to Muslim invaders around the First Crusade.
Based on recently uncovered documents from the area, the general consensus is that the remains in question belonged to a local priest rather than the saint.
It appears that Saint Nicholas’ body most likely still exists within the temple complex.
The archaeologists recently began fresh surveys using ground-penetrating radar, discovering the temple below the modern church. The temple appears almost completely intact, but it’s currently inaccessible due to the presence of exquisite stone reliefs and mosaics that need to be preserved above it.
Excavation work began recently, allowing scholars and select members of the media to access the temple grounds below the church…