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Frontpage News 2010 Archaeologists discovered historical relics in Bulgaria

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Archaeologists discovered historical relics in Bulgaria

With support from the EEA Grants, archaeologists in Bulgaria have discovered what is believed to be relics of St. John the Baptist.

The discovery of the relics followed excavations at St. Ivan island near the seaside town of Sozopol in Bulgaria, a project which is funded by EEA Grants.

On 28 July, during the study of the altar in an ancient church at St Ivan island, archaeologists found a sealed reliquary embedded in the altar. The reliquary was shaped as a sarcophagus and contained bone fragments of a skull, a hand and a tooth.

The archaeologists who discovered the reliquary stated that the relics are likely to be of St. John the Baptist. The evidence supporting this thesis is a Greek inscription found on the reliquary referring to June 24 - the date when the birth of John the Baptist's is celebrated. Samples from the reliquary and the bones are now to be tested.

The relics have been placed on view in St. George Church in Sozopol after being transferred from St. Ivan island by the Bulgarian Orthodox Bishop of Sliven, Yoanikiy. Thousands of Bulgarians and foreign tourists have visited the church in Sozopol to pay their respect to the relics, Sofia News Agency reports.

The excavations at St Ivan island are part of a larger project funded by EEA Grants. The aim is to restore and conserve the fifth-century Monastery of John the Forerunner and the Baptist as well as making it more available to tourists.

The name of the island where the discovery has taken place, St Ivan, means St. John in Bulgarian and other Slavic languages.

Photo credit: Sozopol Foundation