Carbon Dating Shows Ancient Pelvic Bone Could Belong to 'Santa Claus'

The bone fragment
Credit T. Higham & G. Kazan  University

Researchers from New Oxford University have been studying human remains that, legend says, are those of St Nicholas.

"Many relics that we study turn out to date to a period somewhat later than the historic attestation would suggest", said Professor Tom Higham, director of the Oxford Relics Cluster at Keble College's Advanced Studies Centre, according to The Telegraph.

While they can not categorically prove they are from the Christian saint, the team said the results pinpointed the relic's age to the fourth century.

An ancient bone fragment found in France and owned by a priest in IL could belong to Saint Nicholas, the religious figure who inspired the myth of Santa Claus.

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This discovery comes a few months after archaeologists in Turkey claimed they were close to uncovering the tomb of St Nicholas under an old church in Demre, Turkey. Against all odds, the bone fragment was dated to precisely the time in which St Nicholas is thought to have died.

The bone that was analysed is owned by Father Dennis O'Neill of the St Martha of Bethany Church in IL. 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.

He spent his early adulthood travelling round Egypt and Palestine before returning to become the Bishop of Myra. Following his death, stories around him were morphed into the myth of Santa Claus, the bringer of gifts on the Christmas Day we know today. His relics were carried away by a group of Italian sailors and transported to Bari, where the bulk of them sit to this day in the Basilica di San Nicola. The missing bones include the bone, a portion of the left pelvis, owned by Father O'Neill, suggesting the remains could belong to the same person.

Dr Georges Kazan, another director of the Oxford Relics Cluster, added: "These results encourage us to now turn to the Bari and Venice relics to attempt to show that the bone remains are from the same individual. 'It is exciting to think that these relics, which date from such an ancient time, could in fact be genuine".

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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.

Until recently, holders of the relics have resisted testing.

Popular stories about Saint Nicholas served as an inspiration for the legend of Father Christmas in the 16th century.

"Science is not able to definitely prove that it is, it can only prove that it is not, however", Higham said.

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