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06 October 2017, 12:43 | Myrtle Vega
Santa Claus' untouched grave may be beneath church in Turkey's Antalya, archaeologist says
They have unearthed what they claim is likely the tomb of the original Santa Claus, or Saint Nicholas, beneath an ancient church in Demre, southern Turkey.
Recent radar surveys have confirmed the presence of a temple and burial grounds beneath the recently restored Saint NicholasChurch in Demre, Antalya, local publication Hürriyet reports.
Cemil Karabayram, the director of Antalya's Monument Authority, said that the shrine was discovered during scientific and technological works.
Historical records say that Nicholas was buried in the Church built in his honor, but the location of the body of the Saint has always been a mystery. The desire to preserve these mosaics makes it all the more hard to access the tomb and archaeologists will have to carefully remove each tile individually in order to begin excavation. "These stones should be scaled one by one and then removed", Hurriyet newspaper cited him as saying.
Definitely not at the North Pole-but archaeologists still remain divided about the final resting place of St. Nicholas. We believe that the relics of St. Nicholas are stored in this temple intact.
Several mosaics in the church's stonework make accessing this section hard, but the researchers are hopeful that future excavations will prove their discovery is legitimate.
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According to legend, the remains of Saint Nicholas were taken to Bari, Italy in the 11th century AD, but researchers in Turkey suggest that those remains were actually those of the priest.
Sarcophagus of St. Nicholas.
It is believed that St Nicholas merged with the English character Father Christmas to create "Santa Claus". She did not mince words on why she believes the claim to his bones has been made in Demre: "The Turks, of course, are very interested in promoting tourism".
As it turns out, Nicholas bore little resemblance to the red-cheeked and round-bellied Santa we know today.
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