Mona Lisa's Bones Unearthed?

Team finds intact skeleton in former Florence convent

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 19, 2012 10:46 AM CDT

(Newser) – We may be getting a little closer to discovering the secret of Mona Lisa's smile. Experts on Tuesday unearthed an intact skeleton beneath the floor of a former convent in Florence, and say this one could indeed belong to Lisa Gherardini. The tomb hunters last year said they had proof Gherardini was buried in the convent in 1542, but a skeleton dug up that same year wasn't that of the Leonardo da Vinci model.

"Until we have conducted carbon-14 testing, we cannot date with certainty the era in which this person lived," says the lead researcher of the current skeleton. He told ABC News that they also plan to DNA test the bones using the bones of Gherardini’s two sons for comparison. But ANSA reports that there's already one encouraging sign it could be the real deal: The team also found a 15th-century altar base. During that period, the dead were typically laid to rest near such a base, and "after 1500, only two women were buried here: Mona Lisa Gherardini, in 1542, and another noblewoman, Maria del Riccio," says the team.

Researchers dig into underground tombs inside the Convent of St. Ursula, in Florence, Italy, Wednesday, May 11, 2011, during a media tour.   (AP Photo/Fabrizio Giovannozzi)
The famous painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, 'Mona Lisa,' is seen.   (Getty Images)
A photo taken on May 11, 2011 shows the courtyard of the Sant'Orsola convent in the heart of Florence.   (Getty Images)
A worker hands objects to archeologist Valeria d'Aquino during the excavations in underground tombs of the Convent of St. Ursula.   (AP Photo/Fabrizio Giovannozzi)
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