Archaeologists believe they may have uncovered the tomb of Saint Nicholas. The tomb was found after the team discovered a temple and burial grounds below St Nicholas Church in Turkey.
Saint Nicholas was a 4th century Christian saint known for his generous gift giving. He was born in Asia Minor, which is present-day Turkey.
Several miraculous stories about Saint Nicholas have been told, including his ability to resurrect the deceased, give food to the hungry and give money to the poor. This generosity gave rise to the legend of Sinterklaas in the Netherlands, which morphed into Santa Claus in the west.
It had originally been thought that the remains of Saint Nicholas were smuggled from Demre, Turkey to Bari, Italy by sailors, which is where the Basilica Di San Nicola Stands. But Turkish archaeologists now believe those remains belonged to a local priest rather than a Saint, which is why they believe Saint Nicholas’s remains may still be in the newly discovered temple complex.
While intact, the temple is inaccessible due to mosaics that need to be preserved. Archaeologists hope to begin excavation work to allow them to access the temple grounds below the church and determine whether it still holds Saint Nicholas’ body. There is no information on whether or not it could contain the corpses of many happy elves.
The archaeologists are hopeful that they will nevertheless find something interesting. In an interview with the Guardian, Cemil Karabayram, the director of surveying and monuments in Antalya, said “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.”
There is currently no word on when excavation work will begin, so it’s unknown if Saint Nicholas’s remains will or won’t be discovered in the tomb by Christmas.