Bulgarian Archaeologists Agitated over Relics of St John the Baptist

Society » ARCHAEOLOGY | August 3, 2010, Tuesday // 20:50| Views: | Comments: 34
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Bulgaria: Bulgarian Archaeologists Agitated over Relics of St John the Baptist Pictured: the opening of the small sarcophagus said to hold relics of St. John the Baptist. Photo by bTV

The discovery of relics of St John the Baptist in the Black Sea town of Sozopol has caused jealousy among Bulgarian archaeologists, according to Diaspora Minister Bozhidar Dimitrov.

Bulgarian media have published several opinions of archaeologists wishing to remain anonymous saying that the authorities were too fast to declare that the relics found in Sozopol actually belonged to St. John the Baptist.

The relics, which include part of an arm bone, a skull bone, and a tooth, were found in a sealed marble reliquary in the St. John the Forerunner Church on the St. Ivan Island near Sozopol on July 28, 2010, by the team of archaeologists led by Prof. Kazimir Popkonstantinov.

Bulgaria’s Culture Minister Rashidov has urged calm over the discovery. Diaspora Minister and renowned historian Bozhidar Dimitrov, however, has expressed absolute certainty in the fact that the relics found on the St. Ivan Island belonged to St. John the Baptist. He has pointed to an inscription on the marble sarcophagus holding the relics as the greatest evidence for their origin.

“The other archaeologists are shaken by wild envy of their colleague, Professor Kazimir Popkonstantinov. He is a rarely lucky man. It is very seldom that one would find an inscription, and in archaeology the inscription is considered the most authentic proof,” stated Dimitrov, who is a former Director of the Bulgarian National History Museum and a native of Sozopol.

The inscription in question found on the reliquary states that “some time in the 5th century a man named Toma transferred the holy relics exactly on the birthday of St. John the Forerunner.”

Disgruntled archaeologists quoted by a number of Bulgarian media have not really questioned the authenticity of the relics but the sensational way it was presented to the public without carrying out first the respective tests. Some have pointed out that the bones can only be dated but that there is no way of actually proving that they belonged to one of the founders of Christianity.

Many have expressed discontent with the “sensational” nature of Bulgarian archaeological discoveries in the past few years. They explain this approach with the attempt of some of the members of their professional community to attract sponsors for their digs.

Despite the doubts, the special procession which is going to bring the relics of St. John the Baptist to the St. George Church in Sozopol is scheduled for Thursday. According to the Bulgarian 24 Chasa Daily, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has order a special silver sarcophagus for the relics, for which he is going to pay with money of his own.

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Tags: Vezhdi Rashidov, Culture Minister, Bozhidar Dimitrov, Diaspora Minister, archaeologist, archaeology, Sozopol, St. John the Baptist, relics
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» To the forumComments (34)
Honterus - 5 Aug 2010 // 22:26:32

Well, Viking ,for these times at least we have several "Histories" to ponder and choose from and, if one really wants , can find the "truth" for oneself.

For the Antiquity we only have the Greeks and the Romans... Just imagine a history written by a Chartagenese or a Persian...

Jerry - 5 Aug 2010 // 22:20:35

It seems you all are too intellectual and without intuition.

A little faith goes a long way.

viking - 5 Aug 2010 // 22:05:18

I always get a kick out of how little the Russian involvement in WW 2 was (say was because I have no idea about now)taught in the USA and how little of the American fighting and losses were taught in the east.
Like you said.
Those who write history usually have a boss.

Honterus - 5 Aug 2010 // 21:51:10


It's not about his citizenship but about his line of thought or habit of mind or mentality or whatever - which was rather "hellenistic" than ( let's call it ) Judaic.

Chushki - 5 Aug 2010 // 21:46:46

Two things we can all be sure about are that Hitler and Stalin were both baptized into the Mormon 'church'.

Bill - 5 Aug 2010 // 21:43:44


I don't know if Josephus was a Roman citizen. His name certainly bespeaks Latin origin, but my understand was that he was Jewish, and wanted to give the Romans a better look at the Jews (at least in "Antiquities of the Jews". I don't know about "Wars of the Jews".

Paul was a Roman citizen, but I don't know about Josephus.

Honterus - 5 Aug 2010 // 21:34:31

* future.

Well - you got my point anyway.

Honterus - 5 Aug 2010 // 21:32:12

PPS - BUT it is the Greeks and the Romans that first had the idea of HISTORY as the story of their times written down for the sole benefit of the futures generstions.

All the others - Egyptians , Sumerians , Akkadians, Babylonians, Persians - left us just stories, books of the deads, laws, peace treaties, auto-glorifying insctiptions an and - most of all - accounting records. And legends - Ghilgamesh comes to mind...


Honterus - 5 Aug 2010 // 21:10:36


"After all, he was an historian writing for the benefit of the Roman conquerors."

Bill - it so happens that all historians wrote more or less for the benfit of their own people, society or government. It also happens that most historians from the antiquity deeply despised other people - that's why we know so little about Gauls, Illirians , Dardanians, Thracians, and so on. Everything is filtered throug a Greek or Roman F?hlweise .


PS. the Mavrud makes wonders !

Bill - 5 Aug 2010 // 16:58:28


Josephus also mentions Jesus, but in a rather desultory way. After all, he was an historian writing for the benefit of the Roman conquerors.

NellieotAmerica - 5 Aug 2010 // 16:44:55


"He is also mentioned by Flavius Josephus who is usually very correct regarding the historical facts."

How do we know that someone did not tamper with the writing of Flavius in order to corroborate the Christian fiction? I still maintain that all religion is fiction. And it the grander scheme of the Universe, who cares what we small and dumb humans believe? We are such arrogant little pests. The universe doesn't care, no one cares about us, we are just giving ourselves more importance than we are worth.

DrFaust - 5 Aug 2010 // 16:22:49

"I doubt very much that John the Baptist ever existed, let alone that his bones are in some box somewhere. He is a fictional character, like Harry Potter."

No, he is not. He is also mentioned by Flavius Josephus who is usually very correct regarding the historical facts.

Bill - 5 Aug 2010 // 09:19:49


Its the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. All of these things have been prophesied.

Jerry - 5 Aug 2010 // 04:28:02

Since we live in a screwed up world with war, corruption, disease, suffering, hunger, discrimination and lack of faith, I still prefer to hang on to St. John the Baptist in the spiritual realm and not in artifacts.

Bill - 5 Aug 2010 // 04:15:57


For some strange reason, the ONLY people I don't speak to civilly are all on this forum. I wonder why that could be.

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