John the Baptist’s Bones Found?
2012 06 21

By Ker Than | NationalGeographic.com


Excavated from Bulgarian church ruins, remains are from right time and place.

Purported skeletal remains of John the Baptist have been dated to the first century A.D. and so could conceivably have belonged to the "forerunner of Christ," who baptized Jesus, scientists say.




A box holding supposed remains of John the Baptist, displayed at a cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Photograph by Valentina Petrova, AP


Discovered in 2010 among the ruins of a Bulgarian church, the remains include six human bones: a knucklebone from the right hand, a tooth, part of a cranium, a rib, and an ulna, or forearm bone.

DNA and radiocarbon testing of collagen from the knucklebone 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.


John the Baptist in a 15th-century painting. Image: Photoservice Electa/Getty Images
According to the Bible, John was a cousin of Jesus Christ, so the finding means scientists might have DNA from a relative of the Christian savior himself—although proving it is likely impossible.

"The problem is we don’t have a baseline for comparison," said study team member Thomas Higham, an archaeological scientist 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.

"It’s really stretching it to think that material from the first century can end up all the way in this church in Bulgaria and still be there for archaeologists to excavate," Higham said. "But stranger things have happened."





"We Were Surprised"

The fate of John the Baptist’s remains is a topic of much speculation among biblical scholars, but what is known is that, in the third and fourth centuries, reports began to appear of his bones being housed in various churches as holy relics to attract pilgrims—not an uncommon fate for the supposed remains of biblical figures.

"We thought that, since this [Bulgarian] church dates to the fifth century, this gives us a minimum age for this material," Higham said.

"And we thought that perhaps these bones would be fourth or fifth century as well. But we were surprised when they turned out to be much older than that," said Higham, whose work on the bones was funded in part by the National Geographic Society’s Expeditions Council. (National Geographic News is a division of the Society.)


The scientific analysis of the bones hasn’t yet been submitted to a journal, though the results are featured in the National Geographic documentary Head of John the Baptist, airing Thursday in the U.K.



Hell, Damnation, and Cow Bones

The relics were found during an excavation on the island of Sveti Ivan—"St. John" in Bulgarian. 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.

Unfortunately, all of the attention has resulted in the theft of a rib bone, and, Higham said, the local bishop has issued an edict saying "hell and damnation will rain down from God, not only on the person who stole it but also on his family and anyone else who knows about it, and even the village where it was taken."

Curiously, three animal bones—from a sheep, a cow, and a horse—were also part of the cache. Tests showed they were about 400 years older than the human remains.

"The animal bones are the biggest of the group, and they may have just been put there to bulk up what looks like a pretty minimal collection of bones ... ," Higham said.

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."


Hard to Identify, Then and Now

While the new results suggest the bones are from John the Baptist’s time and place, archaeologist Andrew Millard said scientists will probably never be able to definitively say whether the relics belonged to the biblical figure.

"Whether they’re the remains of John the Baptist or whether they were simply obtained from another first-century tomb, we can’t tell," said Millard, of the U.K.’s University of Durham, who wasn’t part of the study.

"The question really is how well they could have identified the remains of John the Baptist in the fourth century. They could’ve opened the wrong tomb in a cemetery."



Article from: nationalgeographic.com






Also tune into:

Christopher Knowles - Movies, Symbolism, John the Baptist & the Templars

Lynn Picknett & Clive Prince - The Masks of Christ & John The Baptist

Nigel Kerner & Andrew Silverman - Shroud of Turin & The Grey Aliens Continued

Pierre Sabak - Priesthood of the Nazarenes, The Nazis & Zionists

Hugh Montgomery - The God-Kings: Babylon, Ulvungar & Oden








Related Articles
Ritual Drama: John The Baptist in Space
St. John the Baptist - Patron Saint of Freemasonry


Latest News from our Front Page

6,000-Year-Old Temple with Possible Sacrificial Altars Discovered
2014 10 21
A 6,000-year-old temple holding humanlike figurines and sacrificed animal remains has been discovered within a massive prehistoric settlement in Ukraine. Built before writing was invented, the temple is about 60 by 20 meters (197 by 66 feet) in size. It was a "two-story building made of wood and clay surrounded by a galleried courtyard," the upper floor divided into five ...
What happened to Journalist Serena Shim? Assassinated? Find out what happened to Serena, Press TV director calls on Turkey
2014 10 21
Press TV news director Hamid Reza Emadi says the “suspicious death,” of the news channel’s correspondent in Turkey is a tragedy for “anyone who wants to get the truth.” Emadi made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Sunday following Serena Shim’s death across the border from Syria’s Kurdish city of Kobani, where the ISIL terrorists and Kurdish fighters ...
Ancient Roman Nanotechnology Inspires Next-Generation Holograms for Information Storage
2014 10 21
The Lycurgus Cup, as it is known due to its depiction of a scene involving King Lycurgus of Thrace, is a 1,600-year-old jade green Roman chalice that changes colour depending on the direction of the light upon it. It baffled scientists ever since the glass chalice was acquired by the British Museum in the 1950s, as they could not work ...
Rapid Geomagnetic Reversal Possibility: Confirmed
2014 10 21
From the video: "The scientists who conducted the study are still unsure why the magnetic field is weakening, but one likely reason is the Earth’s magnetic poles are getting ready to flip, said Rune Floberghagen, the ESA’s Swarm mission manager. In fact, the data suggest magnetic north is moving toward Siberia." Tune into Red Ice Radio: Ben Davidson - Suspicious0bservers: Space Weather ...
Georgia Guide Stone 2014 cube stone removal
2014 10 21
From: Youtube: Was it all just a gag? it seems the cube stone just happens to be made out of the same Elberton granite that the rest of this morbid monument is made from.
More News »