Did Santa really exist? Ancient relic offers new clue

07 Декабря, 2017, 16:59 | Author: Leticia Walters
  • The bone fragment dates from the time of St Nicholas More

Usually, whenever researchers date relics which likely belonged to saints, they turn out to come from a completely different period than history says. A mushy and plump figure with a beard as white as snow, red suit and black boots with a wide buckled belt and stocking cap- that's Santa Claus for you.Though it is generally believed that Santa Claus is a myth created to amuse children, a recent discovery might add that extra tinge of reality to everyone's childhood fantasy.

Researchers at the University of Oxford conducted a radiocarbon dating study on the bone, which was long venerated as having belonged to St Nicholas, a Christian saint who died around 343 AD.

"Many relics that we study turn out to date to a period somewhat later than the historic attestation would suggest", Tom Higham, co-director of the Oxford Relics Centre, said in a statement. Other examples of his bones may indeed have been claimed or distributed to other churches in the region, which would explain multiple groups claiming ownership of his remains.

The small pelvis bone-fragment, examined for the new study, was owned by Father Dennis O'Neill in IL, U.S., who obtained it from Lyon in France. "The results suggest that the bones could in principle be authentic and belong to the saint". Some historians believe that the saint's bones were removed from the Demre site in the 11th century and transported to Bari, Italy, where the Basilica di San Nicola was built so that his remains could be preserved there. Numerous relics and bones attributed to St Nicholas are thought to be held in a church in Bari, Italy, while some others are reportedly in Venice.

According to legend he was a wealthy man who was widely known for his generosity - a trait that inspired the story of Father Christmas as a bringer of gifts on Christmas Day.

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The collection in Bari has only the saint's left ilium and not the saint's full pelvis. Since Fr. O'Neill's relic is from the left pubis (the lower part of the bone), this suggests that both bone fragments could be from the same person.

A previous study concluded that the bone fragments from the Bari and Venice collections are indeed complementary, and could have originated from the same individual, so the next step for the team is to begin examining samples from those two collections. "We can do this using ancient palaeogenomics, or DNA testing".

The archaeologists' work has revealed that the bone has been venerated for nearly 1700 years, making it one of the oldest relics that the Oxford team has ever analysed.

However, asked about the possible authenticity of the relic, Higham said, "Science is not able to definitely prove that it is, it can only prove that it is not".

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