Rather than finding it's significantly younger than early estimations, the radiocarbon testing dates the piece to the fourth century AD, close to when Saint Nicholas died in 343 AD.
An ancient bone fragment found in France and owned by a priest in IL could belong to Saint Nicholas, the religious figure who inspired the myth of Santa Claus.
The remains of St Nicholas, one of the most revered Orthodox Christian saints, have been held in the Basilica di San Nicola church in Bari, Italy since 1087 AD.
According to the legend, he was widely known for his generosity, a trait that inspired the story of Father Christmas as a bringer of gifts on Christmas Day.
St Nicholas is thought to have lived in Myra, Asia Minor, which is now modern day Turkey.
The fact that the bone could indeed be dated to the period of St Nicholas is a major step forward in verifying that it may be an authentic relic.
"This bone fragment, in contrast, suggests that we could possibly be looking at remains from St Nicholas himself", says the Oxford archaeologist.
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As many as 500 bone fragment thought to belong to the saint are kept in the church of San Nicolò in Venice.
The Oxford team carried out a series of tests on a fragment of a pelvis, which has come from a church in Lyon, France.
The bone analysed by the team came from a church in Lyon and is now owned by Father Dennis O'Neill, a priest in IL. The absence of the saint's full pelvis from the relics in Bari, which only features the left ilium, suggests the bone may belong to the same individual. However, analysis of the Father O'Neill bone fragment showed that it was part of the left pubis, acting as further evidence that both bones could be from the same person - perhaps the one and only Santa Claus. "We can do this using ancient paleogenomics or DNA testing". "It is exciting to think that these relics, which date from such an ancient time, could in fact be genuine", Georges Kazan, another Oxford researcher, said in the statement.
Stories about St. Nicholas became popular in the 16th century, leading to the legend of Father Christmas or Santa Claus.
Work has revealed that the bone has been venerated for nearly 1700 years, making it one of the oldest relics that the Oxford team has ever analysed.
"If we get a date in tandem with the historical date, that tells us that we haven't been able to disprove that it could have been from that individual".