Monday, August 9, 2010

What Do the Norwegians Get Out of This???

An interesting development in the story on the alleged "St. John the Baptist" relics and St. Ivan Island story out of Bulgaria (see post below for details):

Archaeology: Excavation and restoration of St Ivan island near Sozopol financed by Norway
Mon, Aug 09 2010 12:09 CET by The Sofia Echo staff

Excavation works and renovation of the monastery complex on St Ivan Island, off the coast of Sozopol in southern Bulgarian, have been financed by the Norwegian embassy in Sofia, an embassy media statement announced on August 9 2010.

The embassy has provided 580 000 leva, covering 90 per cent of the cost for the excavation and restoration of the monastery grounds, encompassing a total of 62 projects in all, the report said.

According to the Norwegian embassy announcement, there will be a second phase of financing, covering the period until 2014, worth about 126.6 million euro, which the Scandinavian country will provide to Bulgaria for a number of different projects such as preservation of cultural heritage, green energy, improvement or energy efficiency, scientific research, education and others.

At the end of July, excavations on Saint Ivan island, part of the Norwegian-sponsored project, unearthed an exquisite marble reliquary incorporated into the church’s altar, the historian Bozhidar Dimitrov, director of the National History Museum and minister without portfolio in charge of Bulgarians abroad, told Focus news agency on July 28 2010.

He suggested that the reliquary might hold the relics of John the Baptist.

St Ivan Island is the largest of five Bulgarian islands in the Black Sea, with an area of 0.66 square kilometres just off the Bulgarian Black Sea coast near Sozopol, a town rich in history and a popular tourist destination, and is separated by a strait several hundred metres long from the small neighbouring St. Peter Island. It is 920m from the Stolets peninsula, Sozopol's Old Town.

Once the island was converted to Christianity, a monastical complex was built between the 5th-6th century on top of the ruins of the old Roman temple, including the Basilica of the Mother of God. Around the 7th-9th century, the basilica was abandoned only to be reconstructed in the 10th century.

The Monastery of John the Forerunner and the Baptist grew into an important centre of Christianity in the region. Archaeological research was carried out after 1985 for two years, which revealed a royal residence, a library, part of the fortified wall with the gate and several monastic cells.
Veselin Topalov used to
have hair!
It became apparent in his statements in the articles cited in the post below that Diaspora Minister Dimitrov fervently desires to turn St. Ivan Island and Sozopol into "pilgrimage" stops for devout Christians (despite the naked women visiting the relics),  featuring the allegedc relics of St. John the Baptist as well as the ruins of several early churches - a sort of Christian Mecca.  That is a fine and worthy goal for a cultural minister, seeking tourist development for his country.

What I want to know is what the heck do the Norwegians get out of funding this multi-year and very expensive archaeological endeavor? 

Look! Magnus Carlsen is
not in diapers anymore!
Call me paranoid.  Call me suspicious.  Call me suspiciously paranoid.   I can't help but wonder if this has something to do with a possible future anticipated world champion chess match between World Chess #1 Norwegian Magnus Carlsen and World Chess #2 Bulgarian Veselin Topalov.  Oh my oh my, what machinations are going on behind the scenes, heh?  Is Silvio Danailov related to Minister Dimitrov by any chance?  Hey, just wondering.

You may be right, I may be crazy, but then it just may be a lunatic you're looking for - so sayeth Billy Joel...

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