Biblical archaeologists believe they may have made one of the most exciting discoveries for centuries -  after uncovering what may be a relic of the cross of Jesus.

The incredible discovery was made when archaeologists digging at an old church site, dating back to A.D. 660, in Turkey spotted a stone chest containing a relic that they think may be part of the wood cross on which Jesus died.

Experts at the dig confirmed that the container, found at the Balatlar Church in the northern province of Sinop near the Black Sea contained “a piece of cross”.

Lead excavator Professor Gulgun Koroglu said:  “We have found a holy thing in a chest.  It is a piece of a cross, and we think it was [part of the cross on which Jesus was crucified].

“This stone chest is very important to us.  It has a history and is the most important artefact we have unearthed so far.”

Koroglu, an art historian and archaeologist at Turkey’s Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, said his team believes the chest served as a symbolic coffin for the relics of a holy person and that the fragments it contained were associated with Jesus’ crucifixion.

They expect to shed more light on the item’s origins, following the results of laboratory tests in the coming weeks.

Koruglu said the archaeology team has found “many things that we didn’t know about before” during four years of digging, including the skeletons of more than 1,000 people.  According to NBC News, a Roman bath was also found at the site.

He added:  “We have learned many things during the excavation that we did not know previously.”