With Christmas just around the corner, kids around the globe will soon be peering up toward the sky in hopes of spotting Santa Claus and his big red sleigh flying through the night.
But, according to Turkish archaeologists, we should have been looking beneath the ground all these years– specifically in Turkey.
In October, the burial place of St. Nicholas– whose modern nicknames include Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, and Saint Nick– was discovered beneath a church in the Natalya province.
The church, aptly named after St. Nicholas, was built in the seventh or eighth century. It is also where the father of Christmas himself is believed to have served as a bishop prior to a flood during the Middle Ages.
This finding comes as a shocking win to the archaeological community, who already knew that the saint’s body had been buried in a fourth-century A.D. church somewhere within Turkey’s Antalya province.
However, about seven hundred years after St. Nicholas died, his remains were stolen– so exactly where the holy man was laid to rest had remained an age-old mystery.
That was until Antalya’s Monument Authority carried out surveys beneath the ancient construction and discovered an untouched shrine belonging to the saint.
“We believe this shrine has not been damaged at all, but it is quite difficult to get to it as there are mosaics on the floor. Each tile will need to be removed one by one so the floor can be returned to its present glory,” explained Cemil Karabayram, head of the Monument Authority.
Karabayram also noted his excitement about this discovery and said he would be hiring researchers from eight different specialties to conduct studies of the site. Additionally, archaeologists have been laying the groundwork and will soon begin penetrating the tomb.
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