Archaeologists find grave of ‘Santa Claus’ in Turkey
Archaeologists in Turkey have said that they have found the tomb of Saint Nicholas, known to most of the world as Santa Claus, under an ancient church in southeastern Antalya province of Turkey.
During radar scans in the Demre district, researchers discovered an intact temple and burial grounds below the church of Saint Nicholas, which is known to be the revered christian saint's birthplace.
Cemil Karabayram, the Head of Antalya's Monument Authority, told the Turkish press that the shrine was discovered by an electronic subsystem that showed gaps beneath the church.
"We believe this shrine has not been damaged at all, but it is quite difficult to get to as there are mosaics on the floor," Karabayram told local media. 
 The grave of  Saint Nicholas, known popularly as Santa Claus / Creative Commons ‍Photo

 The grave of  Saint Nicholas, known popularly as Santa Claus / Creative Commons ‍Photo

In the excavation process, archaeologists will have to loosen each tile from the mosaic, and remove them together in a mold - a painstaking task that will take months.
Archaeological excavations have already been taking place there for 20 years.
The 1,674-year-old remains of Saint Nicholas challenge the current narratives about the saint's relics, including reports that his body was placed in locations as far away as Italy and Ireland.
At the time of his death in 343 AD, Saint Nicholas was interred at the Church in Demre, formerly known as Myra, where he lay undisturbed until the 11th century. 
Then, according to different accounts from Italy, his remains were taken during the crusades to either Venice or Bari, Italy.
Another story, less widely believed, places the bones in an abandoned churchyard in southern Ireland after they were brought there by French knights. 
Most Catholic and Orthodox Christians accept that the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari, Italy, is the final resting place of Santa Claus's remains.
However, Turkish experts are now claiming the bones were removed and those taken abroad belong to an unknown priest.
Santa Claus acted by a man / Photo 

Santa Claus acted by a man / Photo 

Karabayram has said he is very optimistic about uncovering Saint Nicholas's remains.
He explained researchers from eight different fields were involved in the process of uncovering the grave.
As a public figure, Santa Claus has morphed from being a third and fourth-century Asia Minor bishop Saint Nicholas to the popular and generous figure associated with the Christian holiday of Christmas.
"We have obtained very good results but the real work starts now. We will reach the ground and maybe we will find the untouched body of Saint Nicholas," added Karabayram.
According to legend, both of his parents died when he was young and Nicholas used his inheritance to serve the sick and the poor before eventually becoming the bishop of Myra. He was also known for leaving coins in the shoes of the poor. 
The saint became popularized in 16th century Europe when he became Father Christmas, known for giving presents to young children. 
If this claim is confirmed during further excavations, it will definitely have a major impact on tourism in the region. 
(Top image credit: Getty images) 
Source(s): Xinhua News Agency