CBS Local — Turkish archaeologists may end up on many children’s “naughty list” after claiming they’ve found the tomb of the original Saint Nicholas.
According to reports, a survey of St. Nicholas church in Antalya, Turkey has discovered an intact temple beneath the building. St. Nicholas is believed to have been born in the southern coastal city.
“We have obtained very good results but the real work starts now,” Cemil Karabayram said, via The Guardian. “We will reach the ground and maybe we will find the untouched body of Saint Nicholas,” Antalya’s director of surveying and monuments added.
Until now, the remains of St. Nicholas were believed to be in Italy. The bones of the saint, widely known for his generosity with children, were reportedly taken by Italian merchants in the 11th century from their resting place in the ancient town of Myra.
The legend’s tomb was allegedly damaged during an earthquake and gave the Christian merchants a chance to take the body.
The archaeologists in Turkey say the tale of the grave robbery is just a story.
“The world’s eyes will be set on here. We claim that St Nicholas has been kept in this temple without any damage,” Karabayram announced. The surveying director admitted that finding the actual remains of the original Santa Claus would bring a huge boom in tourism to the Turkish city.
As excavation work at the church continues, local shops continue to bask in the area’s reputation as the hometown of Santa. “We are so happy with Saint Nicholas. After lots of centuries, we are earning money thanks to Saint Nicholas,” shopkeeper Baris Yuksel told CNN.