A piece of stone unearthed in an excavation site in Turkey may have belonged to Jesus Christ’s cross.
Archaeologists conducting a large-scale excavation at the Balatlar Church in the Black Sea province of Sinop found the stone in a chest. The 1,350-year-old church was built by the Byzantines, Today’s Zaman reports.
“We have found a holy thing in a chest. It is a piece of a cross, and we think it was [part of the cross on which Jesus was crucified],” Gülgün Köroğlu, an art historian and archaeologist at Turkey's Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, told Hurriyet Daiy News.
The stone which was found in a symbolic grave had crosses engraved on either side. It has since been taken to a lab for further examination, CNN reports.
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Köroğlu, who has been working on the excavation since 2009 says the stone is “the most important artifact” her team has unearthed so far. Archaeologists have also uncovered more than 2,000 skeletons at the site.
In ancient medieval times, relics associated with Jesus Christ were distributed across Europe. Legend has it, St. Helena — the mother of Emperor Constantine, found the real cross used during Christ’s crucifixion and distributed pieces of the wooden cross to leaders in Jerusalem, Rome and Constantinople. Other relics like a bloodstained cloth believed to be wrapped around Christ’s head after he died, the Crown of Thorns and the Veil of Veronica – both used during the Passion -- are all housed in different churches across Europe.
“During the excavations, we have seen many things that we didn’t know about before. Sinop has gained a very good ancient site that we will show visitors,” Köroğlu said.