Bulgarian archaeologists announced they found the bones of John the Baptist in 2010 and this time, science isn't so skeptical.
Tom Higham, a deputy director of Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit who said he doesn't subscribe to "any kind of religion or God or anything like that," tested the six small pieces of bone that were found on Sveti Ivan - St. John Island, according to CNN.
Through radiocarbon dating, Higham found that the bones are from a man who lived at the same time as Jesus. "We got a date that was exactly where it should be, right in the middle of the first century," said Higham, according to CNN.
Scientists at the University of Copenhagen tested the DNA and suggested that the man most likely lived in the Middle East. More extensive DNA testing could provide scientists with a more specific location, but Higham said that type of testing "does cost quite a lot of money."
There is no DNA database with bits of genetic code from Jesus or his followers, but it is unusual for tests to prove the authenticity of relics, according to CNN.
Kazimir Popkonstantinov, the archaeologist that led the team, discovered the fragments under the altar of a fifth century basilica on Sveti Ivan, a Black Sea island. The bones were in a reliquary with a sandstone box inscribed in ancient Greek with the words, "God, save your servant Thomas. To St. John. June 24."
June 24, believed to be the birthday of the Catholic saint, is the feast day of John the Baptist.
It was "logical to suggest that the founders of the monastery did their best to bring relics of its patron saint," Popkonstantinov said, according to CNN.
One of Higham's colleagues knew the Bulgarian archaeologists, but National Geographic was also interested in the findings and provided more funding than Higham was expecting initially and made a film about the findings, according to CNN.
Paul Middleton, a senior lecturer in Biblical studies at the University of Chester, said there is enough historical evidence to reasonably believe John the Baptist - the same one Christians believe baptized his cousin, Jesus - did exist. The bones were discovered where all four gospels and the Jewish historian Josephus state that John the Baptist was beheaded at the behest of Herod Antipas.
Four locations, including a mosque in Syria and a museum in Germany, claim to have the saint's head. A museum in Turkey claims to have his right arm, a monastery in Montenegro alleges it has the saint's right hand and a monastery in Egypt has a crypt with relics they claim belong to him, according to CNN.
"We have a complete genome," said Higham, regarding testing the relics in other locations. "It's possible that we could step this a step further and see if there is any similarity. We've sort of got interested in this. It's not beyond the realms of possibility, and we know that there were relics moving out of the Middle East in the fourth and fifth century."
But Higham said his interest is purely scientific.
"I'm an atheist," he said, according to CNN. "I perceive this as an archaeological dating problem. We have some bones and we're trying to get as much information out of them as we can."