Archaeologists Track Down the Real Mona Lisa with DNA Evidence

First Posted: Aug 09, 2013 02:52 PM EDT

Who was Mona Lisa? Scientists have often wondered who actually possessed the mysterious smile made famous by Leonardo da Vinci's painting. Now, researchers may have found out new clues to who Mona Lisa actually was. They've decided to conduct DNA testing on the remains of a woman that they believe could have been the subject of the famous portrait.

Scientists have long suspected that the woman featured in the famous painting was Lisa Gheradini Del Giocondo, according to Fox News. The wife of a rich silk merchant, she lived in Florence in the 1500s and married her husband when she was only 16. Yet until now, researchers have been unable to confirm where the remains of this woman were located.

In fact, the hunt for Mona Lisa's body has been ongoing since 2007. That's when a book argued that a former convent must be the last resting place of La Gioconda, as the Italians called the Mona Lisa. Currently, most scholars agree with the assessment that Mona Lisa is indeed Lisa Gheradini Del Giocondo, which means all that needs to happen now is for the archaeologists to pinpoint exactly which body belonged to her. 

Now, archaeologists are tracking down the answer. About a year ago, researchers found the remains of a woman on an archaeological dig. They now plan to use DNA testing on the bodies found in the family tomb of Lisa Gheradini Del Giocondo in the so-called Martyrs' Crypt between the main altar of Santissima Annunziata church in Florence. These remains include the bodies of Gherardini's husband and her two sons, according to ANSA.

"Right now we are carrying out Carbon-14 tests on three of the eight skeletons found in St. Ursula, which could be the age Lisa Gherardini was when she died," said Silvana Vinceti, who is in charge of the National Committee for the valuation of historic, cultural and environmental assets, in an interview with ANSA. "The Carbon-14 test will tell us which of the three dates back to the 1500s. Only then will we know which skeleton to do the final DNA test on."

The eventual findings could lead archaeologists to the real Mona Lisa, which could reveal a bit more about the model made famous by da Vinci's portrait.

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