Relic in Ancient Basilica May Hold Apostle's Ashes
Archaeologists say small vessel in Bulgaria came from John's grave site
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2015 2:43 PM CDT
Did the ashes belong to John? Archeologists in Bulgaria think so.   (Renata Sedmakova/

(Newser) – Archaeologists in Bulgaria think they've found ashes belonging to one of the 12 apostles. The team found a small lead container with ashes while excavating a basilica that dates back to the sixth century AD, reports Archaeology in Bulgaria. The markings on the inch-long vessel match those at the grave of St. John the Apostle in what is now Turkey, leading researchers to surmise that a long-ago Christian from Bulgaria traveled to the grave site and returned home with the sample of ashes. Such journeys were common around that time, reports Novinite.

“Probably a pilgrim from the Foros Peninsula went on a pilgrimage to Ephesus, and came back here with this relic, which was then donated to the basilica on Foros,” says the director of the Burgas Regional Museum of History in Bulgaria. (The ancient basilica is located in what is now the Black Sea city of Burgas.) Archeologists also found a Bulgarian royal seal from the 10th century at the dig site, which includes a fortress, notes the Week. (Another archaeological discovery: an ancient underground city in Turkey.)