Florence researchers are about to excavate the bones of the woman they believe served as the model for Mona Lisa. Their hope is that facial reconstruction will prove once and for all if Lisa Gherardini was the subject of the Leonardo da Vinci portrait that has mesmerized viewers for centuries. The painting has long also been known as La Gioconda, linking it to Gherardini's husband, Francesco del Giocondo, who commissioned da Vinci to paint his wife. Digging will begin later this month at a convent in central Florence where Gherardini was buried in 1542.
The same research team last year unearthed bones of the artist Caravaggio and discovered a possible cause of his death 400 years earlier. Researchers this time will hunt for Gherardini's specific tomb at the convent using radar and seeking the remains of a woman in her 60s who died in the mid-1500s, reports the Guardian. They'll carry out carbon dating and DNA tests to link remains to Gherardini's children's remains, also buried in Florence. (Click for more Mona Lisa mysteries.)