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Archaeological survey - island St.Ivan near Sozopol
Thursday, 29 Jul 2010 - Archeological Museum
On July the 20th scientific team lead by Prof. Dr. Kasimir Popkonstantinov and Deputy. Head Researcher Tsonya Drazeva started the new archaeological season in the medieval monastery of St. John the Baptist on the island of St. Ivan near Sozopol.
The excavations began with testing pits in the foundations of the oldest church on the island, built at the end of the 4th - beginning of the 5th century AD.
On July 28th at 1:30 PM during the clearing of the base of the altar table at a depth of 0.6 m under the marble floor was found a RELIQUARY / container for relics / in a shape of a small coffin, 18 cm long and 14 cm high. The reliquary was carefully removed from its bed and transferred to the Archaeological Museum in Sozopol. According to the characteristics of other findings in the surrounding layer, this finding can be dated with the late fourth century AD.
During the research of the mortar pad, a second small box made of pale yellow sandstone / typical for the territory of Palestine/ appeared. On the outside walls, an inscription in middle greek language has been deciphered by Professor Popkonstantinov. In the text clear appears the name of St. John on one side and the name of a person called Thoma, who shalt be “Blessed by God”, which means that the person carried in this box relics of the saint which were placed in reliquary during the construction of the early Christian church.

This discovery gives us a unique opportunity for the first time in Bulgaria to track the entire process of sacred ritual performed at the dawn of Christianity in our land. It demonstrates the importance of the ancient city of Apollonia-Sizipolis / city of salvation / and in particular the oldest monastery along the Black Sea coast and also the only one monastery which bears the name of St. John the Baptist.
We invite you to witness the opening of the reliquary on August the 1st / Sunday at 11 o'clock in the Archaeological Museum in Sozopol by a special commission of experts as well as in the presence of His Eminence Metropolitan of Sliven Yoanikii and Bozidar Dimitrov - Minister responsible for Religious Affairs in the Republic of Bulgaria.

Dr. Tsonya Drazheva
Director of the Regional History Museum, Burgas
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