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Turkish experts claim that what was believed to be the original grave of Saint Nicholas (pictured) was in fact the grave of an anonymous priest. They now believe that his undamaged grave was discovered in St. Nicholas Church, in Demre, Turkey (Photo: Creative Commons)
(NEWSWEEK) — Archaeologists in Turkey may be on the cusp of solving a mystery thousands of years in the making after they stumbled on a tomb beneath the ruins of an ancient church they believe contains the remains of Saint Nicholas—known popularly as Santa Claus.
A portion of the site believed to contain the undamaged grave was discovered in St. Nicholas Church, located in Turkey’s southern Antalya province. The Demre district in which the church is found is known to be the revered Christian saint’s birthplace.
The head of Antalya’s Monument Authority, Cemil Karabayram, told the Turkish press the shrine was discovered during electronic surveys that showed gaps beneath the church.
“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,” Karabayram told Hurriyet Daily News. In the excavation process, archaeologists will have to loosen each tile from the mosaics and remove them together in a mold.
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