The Bones Of Mona Lisa
July 19, 2012

The Bones Of Mona Lisa

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

The Mona Lisa is one of the world´s most well-known and famously discussed pieces of art. A mystery for centuries, German academics announced in 2008 that they had determined her identity once and for all, saying Mona Lisa is undoubtedly Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, wife of a wealthy silk merchant.

With her identity finally sorted, researchers are now saying they might know where Ms. Gherardini´s bones are buried; possibly deep beneath an Italian church.

Archeologists have said they´ve found a complete skeleton beneath an abandoned church in Florence, just underneath an altar. The bones are old enough and in the right area, leading these archeologists to believe that they could be the bones of Ms. Lisa.

"That altar was certainly in use at Lisa Gherardini's time," said Valeria D'Aquino, a Tuscan Superintendency archeologist. To find these bones, archeologists had to dig past a foot of concrete before they hit the brick crypt underneath the church altar.

The bones will now undergo radiocarbon dating, hystological analysis and DNA testing to determine the age and identity of the skeleton.

"If the bones turn to be those of a female skeleton there will be two possibilities: Either they belong to the noblewoman Maria del Riccio or they belong to Lisa Gherardini. According to historic records, only these two women, who were not nuns, were given special burials in the convent," said Silvano Vinceti, president of the National Committee for the Promotion of Historic and Cultural Heritage.

When these tests are complete, the DNA of the skeleton will be compared with DNA from skeletons which are believed to have belonged to Ms. Lisa´s children.

Last year, Vinceti set out to put the final puzzle pieces together in Ms. Lisa´s identity. Based on his extensive research and some documents by historian Giuseppe Pallanti, Vinceti deduced that Ms. Lisa was may be found in the convent at St. Orsola.

"Lisa Gheradini did exist and lived a rather ordinary life," said Pallanti, speaking to Discovery News. Pallanti, though studied by Vinceti, is not a part of this search.

Through his studies, Pallanti has been able to tease apart several details about Ms. Lisa´s life. For instance, according to his research, Lisa Gherardini´s birthday was June 15, 1479, and she died at the age of 63. Pallanti also found several other important documents in his research, including the will of Francesco del Giocondo, Ms. Lisa´s husband. In these documents, Giocondoa asked his daughter to take care of his “beloved wife” Lisa. His daughter, one of their 5 children, was a nun. When Giocondo passed away, she brought Ms. Lisa to live with her in the convent at St. Orsola.

According to a document known as the “Book of the dead,” another discovery by Pallanti, Ms. Lisa remained at the convent until she passed.

"Lisa di Francesco Del Giocondo died on July 15, 1542 and was buried in Sant'Orsola," the document reads.

The document also says the entire parish was in attendance for her funeral, a strong indication that Ms. Lisa was well liked among the people of Florence.