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ARCHAEOLOGY > Turkish professor calls for the return of Santa Claus' bones to Turkey

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EPA photo

Akdeniz University (AÜ) Archaeology professor Nevzat Çevik has called on the Vatican to return to Turkey the bones of Saint Nicholas (the original Santa Claus), which were taken out of the country in 1087, in an interview with Anatolia news agency.

Çevik said the bones of Saint Nicholas were taken from Turkey "by force" to be buried in a church in the Bari province of Italy, and should be returned to the place where the saint lived.

"This has nothing to do with tourism. Returning his bones to his grave in Demre [a town in the southern province of Antalya] is a human wish," Çevik said, adding that Saint Nicholas would himself like to be buried in the funerary chapel next to his church in Demre.

In the interview, Çevik also expressed his satisfaction at the return of a number of artifacts to Turkey through the initiative of the Culture and Tourism Ministry.

"Saint Nicholas is also important for the Muslim world, despite belonging to a period before the arrival of Islam. He was trying to spread Christianity, which was also a religion sent by God," he said.

Çevik also emphasized the importance of the Saint Nicholas Church in Demre as a place of pilgrimage for 1500 years.

Saint Nicholas was born in the Aegean region and he lived in ancient town of Myra, in Lycia, which is today called Demre. The Saint Nicholas Church was built in the 4th century A.D., and is now a museum that attracts scores of visitors, especially Orthodox tourists.

December/23/2012

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READER COMMENTS

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mike alexander

12/28/2012 3:45:38 PM

After all, Santa does not go to an Islamic country which protest his celebration !

T. Franklin

12/28/2012 7:23:50 AM

Egypt is calling, they want the Obelisque back.

John Smith

12/25/2012 9:52:57 PM

Noncence, what Europeans steal they never give back.

DutchTurk JANICAR

12/24/2012 7:09:57 PM

We need to bring those bones back and send those bone thieves to the tribunal in Den Haag :D Santa Claus was born, lived and died there, so he should still be there.

Pure Reason

12/24/2012 5:21:12 PM

Is this guy for real?! First Turks conquer and exterminate Christian land and population and now they put a claim on their heritage?! What if they Vatican says 'no'? Will there be another assassination attempt against the Pope? Also, there was no Turkey back then not even an Ottoman Empire, just some Turkmen nomads pillaging the developed areas of the Byzantine Empire...

constantinos kio

12/24/2012 3:26:03 PM

need to make money from turism from a greek saint ? in any case what he will do in a muslim country ?

Brian Irlanda

12/24/2012 1:16:44 PM

Jean Pierre, St Nicholas was a real man who lived in what is now Turkey. In relation to his remains we shouldn't think of who's claim is strongest, Turkey or Italy. We must think about the man and his wishes. One assumes that as he was an old man when he died that he chose the place he wanted to hold his mortal remains. Forget about the politics and claims just for a moment and think about it. We should all accept that the man should be buried where HE decided should be his final resting place.

Agnes Smith

12/24/2012 12:16:45 PM

There is a santa story every year at the time. It is a PR prank -No more tourists than already do visit Myra are going to come because his bones are there. Ozgur you are correct, where does this begin and end. Most artefacts in question predate Ottomans and Turks so who really does have claim to them. Gunay and co should be concentrating on what we have and not waste time in pointless battles with museums around the world.

Ali Karp

12/23/2012 10:39:46 PM

Let the man rest in peace. Why move his bones from one place to another every thousand years? Turkey has enough bones already.

Ozgur Erhan

12/23/2012 10:23:55 PM

Another PR own goal. But if this line of thinking spreads, then Turkey could have to return the obelisk near Sultanahmet to Egypt but it could claim the horses back from St. Mark. On the other hand, the things taken from Greece by the Emperor Constantine might have to go back home....this could get exciting!
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