17 Jun 2012

Relics given carbon dating test

10:13 am on 17 June 2012

Carbon dating has given some credence to claims that six bones unearthed in Bulgaria, belong to John the Baptist.

The remains, which include a molar 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 (Saint John) in the Black Sea. They are on display in a church in Sozopol, Bulgaria.

After dating the bones and analyzing their genetic code, scientists have concluded that they could indeed be relics from John's era.

Analysis by the University of Oxford's radiocarbon accelerator unit dated a knuckle-bone to the first Century AD, when John the Baptist would have lived.

Genetic analysis by the University of Copenhagen showed that the bones were from the same person, a man who most probably came from the Middle East.

John the Baptist, who is revered in Christianity and Islam, announced the coming of Jesus and baptised him in the River Jordan. The Gospels say King Herod had him beheaded.

The evidence includes a small box made from volcanic ash, which was found next to the bones and is inscribed with John's name and his feast day in Ancient Greek.

The ash came from Cappadocia, in modern Turkey, which was one of the routes used to take purported relics from the Holy Land to Constantinople (now Istanbul).

Oxford archaeologist Georges Kazan says the monastery of Sveti Ivan was on a major Black Sea trading route.

''(Relics) were often bestowed as a sign of favour. The monastery may well have received a portion of relics as a gift from a patron," he said.