BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A team of Turkish archaeologists say they may have found the final resting place of St. Nicholas, the 4th-century figure who inspired the modern day Santa Claus myth.
National Geographic reports that the researchers have conducted scans that indicate there’s a previously unknown tomb beneath the floor of St. Nicholas Church in the Demre district of Antalya in Turkey.
St. Nicholas, according to the Catholic institution dedicated to his legacy, was born just west of the city of Myra, now known as Demre, and also died there in the year 343.
The St. Nicholas Center maintains that Italian sailors stole his bones from Myra and took them to the city of Bari on the southeastern coast of Italy in the 11th century. It is there that the Basilica di San Nicola sits today.
But recently, archaeologists have questioned if the stolen bones could have belonged to a local priest, not the famously charitable, gift-giving saint.
Before they explore the contents of the Turkish tomb, excavators will have to carefully remove an intricate mosaic currently blocking them from accessing it.
“This speculation is very premature,” St. Nicholas Center representative Carol Meyers told National Geographic. “If relics are found, they would need to be dated and examined by international experts.”