Remains which include a knuckle bone, molar tooth and a piece of cranium, were found in July 2010 in a marble sarcophagus in the ruins of a medieval church on the island of Sveti Ivan, or Saint John, off Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast near the resort of Sozopol and are said to be of John the Baptist.
A group of archaeologists from Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit at Oxford University after conducting DNA and radiocarbon testing of collagen from the knuckle bone show that the remains likely belonged to a Middle Eastern man who lived in the first century A.D., which fits with the story of John the Baptist.
The results showed that it was that of a male dating back to 1st century AD who most probably came from the Middle East. This man is believed to be John the Baptist, the prophet who baptized Jesus Christ.
The archaeologists who originally discovered the bones also found a small box made of hardened volcanic ash buried nearby in an older part of the church. The case bears an ancient Greek inscription that mentions John the Baptist and his birthday. It also asks God to “help your servant Thomas.”
One theory is that “Thomas” brought the box—which tests suggest originated from Cappadocia, a region of what’s now Turkey—to the island.
“We think this box was the original box that brought the bones to the island,” Higham said. “When the new church was built, the bones were put into the marble sarcophagus.”
“The problem is we don’t have a baseline,” said study team member Thomas Higham, an archaeologist at the U.K.’s University of Oxford. “We don’t have a solid, reliable piece of bone that belongs to [John the Baptist or Jesus].”
As such, the current study can’t confirm—or for that matter, disprove—that the bones belonged to John the Baptist.
The bones were entombed in a small marble sarcophagus.The bones had been buried beneath the church altar.For the time being, they’ll remain in Bulgaria as property of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and are currently being showcased in the country’s capital, Sofia,Daily News said