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Bulgaria bones may belong to John the Baptist

Carbon dating proves remains belong to First Century Middle Eastern man.

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A woman looks at a painting entitled "Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist" by German artist Lucas Cranach the Elder in Paris. (FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)

John the Baptist’s remains may indeed be resting underneath a church floor in Bulgaria, Oxford University researchers said.

At the very least, the tooth, knuckle and skull fragments belong to someone matching his description.

The scholars announced Thursday that carbon dating conducted on fragments found on Sveti Ivan Island (or Saint John Island) came from the First Century, around the time John the Baptist would have lived, Agence France-Presse said.

Researchers in Denmark collaborating with the English group determined the bone fragments came from a man of Middle Eastern origin.

“Whether that person is John the Baptist is a question that we cannot yet definitely answer and probably never will,” Oxford University professor Tom Higham told AFP.

Yet, what makes the case especially intriguing is a small vessel found alongside the bones, Reuters reported.

In 2010, another researcher found the sarcophagus with the bones inside it alongside an urn that had John’s name and the date Christians celebrate his birth, June 24, inscribed on it.

According to the Bible, John baptized Jesus Christ, but Herod Antipas beheaded John because he criticized the Roman ruler’s incestuous marriage.

Oxford scholar Georges Kazan said the discovery adds another chapter into the growing legacy of John the Baptist.

He told The Associated Press that he’s examined dozens of bones said to belong to John, but this appears to annul all others.

“There are about eight or nine skulls of John the Baptist out there,” he told the AP. “They can’t be all John the Baptist.”

National Geographic funded the Oxford study and will air a documentary called "Head of John the Baptist" on Sunday in England.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/culture-lifestyle/world-religion/120615/bulgaria-bones-may-belong-john-the-baptist