Amid the on-going controversy regarding the authenticity of the recently discovered remains claimed by some archaeologists to have belonged to Saint John the Baptists, the Norwegian Embassy announced on Monday that Norway is financing the archaeology excavations during which the remains were found.
“The archaeology excavations, as well as the restoration of the monastery complex at the Saint Ivan island near Sozopol are financed by the Norwegian government in the framework of the European Economic Area (EEA). The entire sum granted by Norway for the project is 584,028 euro, which cover 90 per cent of all expenses,” according to an official press release distributed to media and published on the embassy’s website today.
According to the embassy’s information, the excavations on the Saint Ivan island are one of the nearly 62 project that have received support from EEA’s Financial mechanism and the Norwegian programme for cooperation during the first phase of cooperation between Norway and Bulgaria for the period between 2007 and 2009.
Ahead is a second financing stage for the period between 2009 and 2014, in which Norway will grant Bulgaria 126.6 million euro for a variety of projects, connected to cultural heritage conservation, green energy and energy effectiveness, health care, academic activities, education, as well as labour market, civil society and justice sector initiatives.
Today, Ambassador Tove Skarstein will visit the excavations on the Island of Saint Ivan and will take a look at the remains of Saint John the Baptist, kept in the Saint George church in the nearby town of Sozopol.
“We are happy that important archaeological projects are financed with Norwegian money, and in this way we are helping Bulgaria preserve its rich cultural-historical heritage. Of course, first we’ll have to wait for the results from the ongoing analyses of the finds. It would be a great joy if it turns out they have a high historical value,” Mrs Skarstein said, in regards to the remains, found during the excavations, which some archaeologists claim belonged to Saint John the Baptist.
As BalkanTravellers.com reported, a team of archaeologists discovered on the island small arm, leg and facial bone fragments, as well as a tooth and a heel, which were almost immediately said to have belonged to one of the founders of Christianity, Saint John the Baptist.
Following this announcement, a debate, chiefly between Bulgarian minister without portfolio, former head of the National History Museum and Sozopol-native, Bozhidar Dimitrov and members of the Bulgarian archaeological community ensured, regarding both the haste of such statements before the bones’ authenticity could be confirmed. The debate is still ongoing and has deepened, with vulgar insults having been exchanged between Dimitrov and prominent archaeologists over the past several days.
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