Bones may belong to John the Baptist

2012-06-15 20:45

Paris - Scientists have found new evidence they say supports the theory that a knuckle bone and other human remains found under a church floor in Bulgaria may be of John the Baptist.

The relics found in a small marble sarcophagus two years ago on a Bulgarian island called Sveti Ivan, which translates as Saint John, also included a human tooth, part of a skull and three animal bones.

A research team from Oxford University dated the right-handed knuckle bone to the first century CE (Common Era), when John is believed to have lived until his beheading ordered by king Herod, the university said in a statement.

And scientists from the University of Copenhagen analysed the DNA of the bones, finding they came from a single individual, probably a man, from a family in the modern-day Middle East, where John would have lived.

While these findings do not definitively prove anything, they also don't refute the theory first proffered by the Bulgarian archaeologists who found the remains while excavating under an ancient church on the island.


Many sites around the world claim to hold relics of the saint, including the Grand Mosque in Damascus which says it has his head.

The right hand with which the prophet allegedly baptised Jesus in the River Jordan is also claimed to be held by several entities, including a Serbian Orthodox monastery in Montenegro.

"The result from the metacarpal hand bone is clearly consistent with someone who lived in the early first century AD," Oxford University professor Tom Higham said of the new study.

"Whether that person is John the Baptist is a question that we cannot yet definitely answer and probably never will."

Bulgarian archaeologists had found a small box made of hardened volcanic ash close to the sarcophagus.

The box bore inscriptions in ancient Greek that referred to John the Baptist and the date that Christians celebrate his birth, 24 June.

The findings of another Oxford researcher, using historical documents, suggest that the monastery of Sveti Ivan may have received a portion of John the Baptist's relics in the fifth or early sixth centuries.

The findings are to be presented in a documentary to be aired on The National Geographic channel in Britain on Sunday.

  • Burtfred - 2012-06-15 21:08

    Who cares?

      fdalana - 2012-06-15 23:45

      those who read and commented on the article.

      renesongs - 2012-06-16 12:59

      @ MemeMan as a follower of science I would be delighted if they found definitive remains of Jesus with DNA. Many questions may be answered like was his father mortal, if so who was his father was he related to King David, how did he die and when, did he arise from the dead, did he ascend to heaven. I'm afraid that the answers would divide the religious communities.

      mollie.kruger - 2012-06-16 13:32

      What a load of nonsense! Next they will find Adam's bones somewhere in Iraq...

      gavin.dandridge - 2012-06-17 03:08

      Most atheists and scientists don't deny the possibility of the existance of a man called Jesus, so finding his bones wouldn't and couldn't prove he was a supreme being or god. Although I'm sure many religious will claim it as proof as much as they claim the bible is proof of god.

  • Dave - 2012-06-15 23:01

    "Bones MAY belong to John the Baptist" as Naas would say, on the other hand, they may NOT.

  • zaatheist - 2012-06-16 04:21

    Another scam to set up some form of religious site to rake in da cash. I am surprised they don't claim is was wrapped in a shroud.

      jody.beggs - 2012-06-18 08:36

      Its interesting the Religious idjits are adamant scientific dating techniques don't work , unless they use them ! So pathetic... Damn the man...

  • Francois R Nel - 2012-06-16 08:01

    Also amazing that normal people pray to these saints, but clearly stated in the bible that you shal not pray unto ANY other than Me? Money makes the church rich and the people stupid.

  • Frank - 2012-06-16 09:55

    ZaAtheist believes in the bones of the Taung Child" Another scam to set up some form of religious site to rake in da cash." Christains believe in John the baptist. I see double standards apply here.

  • Ryno - 2012-06-16 10:04

    it is kinda interesting...although doubtful

  • Benita - 2012-06-16 21:40

    I'm wondering about his head. Was he not beheaded? So why is his skull with the rest of his skeleton? I doubt they would have buried him with his skull. The people around him who hated him would not have shown any sentiment in getting his head back to bury him in a complete state. And to tell you the truth, as a Christian myself, I am sick and tired of people trying to make money out of ministry, churches, Christianity, and all other false teachers out there. I don't want to see the day they stand in front of God.

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