Scientists Zero In on Lost Grave of Don Quixote Author

5 possible locations of Miguel de Cervantes' remains pinpointed

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 10, 2014 8:04 AM CDT

(Newser) Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes is widely considered the most important writer of Spain's Golden Age—but he died poor, and over the centuries since his death on April 22, 1616, the exact location of his grave has been forgotten. Forensic scientists have been looking for it since April, and now they've zeroed in on five possible sites, the BBC reports. All of them are underneath the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians, a Madrid church where Cervantes was recorded as being buried—he had strong ties to the Trinitarians. But the church has expanded since his death, making it more difficult to locate his remains, AFP reports.

To identify the possible sites, infrared cameras, 3D scanners, and ground-penetrating radar were used; now, researchers will search the locations, starting with the crypt, which features about 30 alcoves that could store bones. "It is reasonable to think that if Miguel de Cervantes' remains were exhumed because of any works that were carried out in the church, they would have been deposited in one of these alcoves," explains the lead forensic anthropologist. The team is also seeking permission from the church to dig under the convent if necessary. If bones surface, they'll be compared to Cervantes' known characteristics, including three musket ball wounds he sustained during the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. If the remains are confirmed to be the author's, they will be permanently interred in the convent. (Last year, Pablo Neruda was exhumed—to solve the mystery of whether the poet was poisoned.)

Two operators scan the altar with a Ground Penetration Radar at the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in the historic Barrio de las Letras, in Madrid,  Spain, Monday, April 28, 2014.
Two operators scan the altar with a Ground Penetration Radar at the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in the historic Barrio de las Letras, in Madrid, Spain, Monday, April 28, 2014.   (AP Photo/Paul White)
Two operators scan the altar with a Ground Penetration Radar at the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in the historic Barrio de las Letras, or Literary Quarter in Madrid,  Spain, April 28, 2014.
Two operators scan the altar with a Ground Penetration Radar at the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in the historic Barrio de las Letras, or Literary Quarter in Madrid, Spain, April 28, 2014.   (AP Photo/Paul White)
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