St. John the Baptist

St. John the Baptist Relics Found in Bulgaria’s Sozopol ‘Could’ Be Authentic, Oxford Archaeology Dating Expert Finds

The relics of St. John the Baptist,
which were discovered on the St. Ivan Island in the Black Sea off the coast of Bulgaria’s Sozopol back in 2010, belonged to a Middle Eastern man who lived at the time of Jesus Christ, an Oxford radiocarbon dating expert has confirmed. In August 2010, during excavations of an ancient monastery on the Bulgarian Black Sea island St. Ivan (St. John) near Sozopol, Bulgarian archaeologist Prof. Kazimir Popkonstantinov discovered a reliquary containing relics of St. John the Baptist.
Фолклорни фестивали и събори
The discovery of St. John the Baptist’s relics, which consist of small bone particles from a skull, jaw bone, arm bone, and tooth, has generated great international interest ever since, and now scholars from Oxford University have completed tests partly confirming the authenticity of the saintly bones, CNN reports citing Prof. Tom Higham from the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford.

Higham, an Oxford University scientist and an atheist who doesn’t believe in “any kind of religion or God or anything like that,” was asked to test the six small bone fragments found on the Bulgarian Black Sea island named Sveti Ivan – St. John. The bones have turned out to be from a man who lived in the Middle East at the same time as Jesus, Higham says.
“We got a date that was exactly where it should be, right in the middle of the first century,” says the Oxford radiocarbon dating expert.

This is certainly not a definitive proof that the bone particles found in Bulgaria belonged to St. John the Baptist because there is no “DNA database” of Early Christian saints, says Bulgarian archeologist Prof. Kazimir Popkonstantinov who found the bones.

But the mere fact that the testing did not prove the bones are fakes is unusual, the report points out reminding that Popkonstantinov led the team that found the relics under the altar of a 5th century basilica at the St. John the Baptist Monastery on Sveti Ivan, a Black Sea island off Sozopol on Bulgaria’s Southern Black Sea coast.
The bones were in a reliquary, a container for holy relics, with a tiny sandstone box. Written on the box in Greek were the words, “God, save your servant Thomas. To St. John. June 24.” The date is the Christian feast day of St. John the Baptist, believed to be his birthday. When the bones were found in 2010, Popkonstantinov said it was “logical to suggest that the founders of the monastery did their best to bring relics of its patron saint.”

Higham, the deputy director of Oxford’s Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, got involved because a colleague knew the Bulgarian archeologists. National Geographic was also interested, so it provided funding for more extensive testing than Higham originally planned, and made a film about the project, CNN explains. Radiocarbon dating shows that the bones were from the right period to be from St. John the Baptist, Higham says, while genetic testing shows it was a man and all the bones were from the same person.

DNA testing by colleagues at the University of Copenhagen suggested that the person was most likely to have been from the Middle East, he adds. More detailed nuclear DNA testing could pin down his location even more accurately, Higham said, but “does cost quite a lot of money.”
Фолклорни фестивали и събори
There is reasonably good historical evidence that John the Baptist, whom Christians believe baptized his cousin Jesus, did exist, Paul Middleton, a senior lecturer in Biblical studies at the University of Chester, is quoted as saying. All four gospels and the contemporary Jewish historian Josephus say he was beheaded on the orders of the ruler Herod Antipas, Middleton said when the bones were found.

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