Ottoman ceramics found at Santa Claus site in Antalya
ANTALYA – Anadolu Agency
Ottoman-era ceramics have been discovered during excavations at the Noel Baba (Santa Claus) Museum excavations in the southern province of Antalya’s Demre district.
One of the most visited places in Antalya, the Noel Baba Museum pursuing excavations in its western courtyard.
The head of the excavations at the museum, Hacettepe University Faculty of History of Arts Professor Sema Doğan said that works continued on at a deep layer since Demre was filled with five-meters of alluvion in the 13th century.
A nominee for the UNESCO World Heritage List, the museum had religious and political importance, said Doğan, adding that their biggest goal was to get the structure on the list.
“We don’t just excavate. We continue working even in winter months as long as our allowance is enough. We carry out excavations only in the summer months but we will continue conservation and restoration work in the winter, too.”
She said they had found Ottoman-era ceramics in an upper layer of soil during excavations, revealing important artifacts for the Noel Baba Museum.
She said the Turkish-Ottoman era had a significant place in the history of Demre, adding that the team had found lots of 19th-century pots and pans used in daily life as well as Byzantine-era artifacts in the lower layers.
St Nicholas and Santa Claus
Doğan explained that born in Patara, St. Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus and as a very important personality in Orthodox Christianity, lived in the 4th century and was a patriarch.
She said St. Nicholas was believed to have helped sailors, children, poor people and women who did not have children. He received his “saint” title due to his kindness.
“St. Nicholas is one of the most important saints both in the Greek and Russian Orthodox world. This is why this structure is a pilgrimage place particularly for Russians. Lots of people visit there. The Orthodox people make pilgrimages there. Pilgrims who have gone to Jerusalem made their pilgrimage here not only today but also during the Middle Ages.”
Bones of Santa Claus
Doğan said the bones of St. Nicholas were stolen from his tomb in 1807 by Italian traders and buried in a tomb at a church built for him in Italy’s Bari city. “In recent years, there have been discussions about his bones,” she added.
Doğan said Turkish experts had put in effort for the return of the stolen bones but it was not known if the bones really belonged to the saint.
“Because we don’t even know where is the exact place of St. Nicholas’ tomb. Yes, he was buried here after he died and lies under this structure. A church was established on the tomb. But we don’t know if the bones, which were taken to Italy, are his.”