Cancel Christmas: Researchers Find What May be the Real Tomb of Santa Claus
Underneath a church in Turkey, archeologists have discovered what they believe may be the tomb of Santa Clause, aka St. Nicholas.
Well, there’s some good news and bad this holiday season.
First, the good news: Santa Claus was real! That isn’t exactly breaking news as the legends of Santa have long been attributed – at least to a degree – to the real Saint Nicholas, a Fourth century Bishop who became the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, brewers, pawnbrokers, students, and – notably – children. During his life, he earned a reputation for secretly giving gifts to people in need. Over the centuries, that turned into legend and myth.
The bad news is that researchers in Turkey may have found his body. To be fair, that’s not in itself bad news per se – especially not for archeologists and fans of history – but it is a bit of a downer around Christmas time to announce that Santa’s corpse has been discovered. Santa’s on his way! And by the way, we found his decayed husk.
But if you are able to celebrate the myth from the man, the discovery may solve a massive historical mystery that has been debated for centuries.
The discovery was made as archeologists investigated the ruins of the St. Nicholas Church (one of many bearing that name), located in the Antalya province of southern Turkey. The region is believed to be the birthplace of old St. Nick and is a frequent destination for archeologists looking for the remains of the saint.
While surveying the remains of the church using electronic surveying tools, several gaps were discovered under the church. This led archeologists to discover a mostly undamaged tomb and shrine that they believe to belong to Santa. It will take time to verify the find, however, as the tomb beneath several ancient mosaics that will need to be removed with care and as a whole in order to properly access the tomb.
Although the team behind the discovery is confident that the tomb contains St. Nicholas’ remains, they will still face plenty of disagreements.
The remains of St. Nick have been a contentious subject for decades, even centuries, with some stories claiming his body was removed from Turkey and taken as far away as Ireland, while others claim to have uncovered the remains on a small Turkish island back in the early 90s. Others still believe the remains were illegally transported to Italy at some point.
So shy of finding the mummified remains of an elf, the debate may continue. There are, however, currently researchers from eight different fields of study looking into the recent discovery. If it is St. Nicholas, the group should be able to at least put forth a compelling argument.
Regardless of what the team uncovers, the legend of Santa will continue unabated. To be fair, the fact and the myth separated centuries ago, and the current icon is closer to the Dutch legends from the 16th century of Sinterklaas than the Turkish Bishop. Still, the magnitude of the discovery is significant. It may not affect Christmas, but it might help to settle a long-standing historical mystery.