The coolest stuff regarding ancient religious history is not found in the Vatican or western Europe at all, it’s in the East where a lot less modern growth took place.  There is more stuff that will be buried under the Ilisu dam in Turkey than in all of most countries farther west.  Almost every town in Turkey is a major archaeological site.

So it also goes with places like Bulgaria. I found a really wonderful Byzantine cross on a trip there, from the 18th century (unless you are doing it one time, to experience the paperwork and process of buying and bringing in an antique, I discourage you from doing so) and the place is littered with ancient monasteries and churches.

On the Black Sea island called Sveti Ivan, which is Bulgarian for St. John (the Baptist), researchers from the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit at Oxford University have dated a knuckle bone found by archaeologist Kazimir Popkonstantinov buried beneath a church. It originates from the first century AD, the time of John The Baptist’s life, and the DNA was consistent with a person of Near East heritage.

They did a mitochondrial DNA genome sequence from three of the human bones to establish they were all from the same individual, and they identified a mtDNA haplotype as being a group most commonly found in the Near East, the Middle East today. They established that the bones were probably of a male individual after an analysis of the nuclear DNA from samples.

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