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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Have they found the Mona Lisa? Archaeologists reveal TWO new female skeletons in Florence that could be the woman with the 'enigmatic smile'


It takes a vivid imagination to place the Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile on this skull – but archaeologists are convinced they can. They believe a skeleton unearthed in Florence could have belonged to the woman painted by Leonardo Da Vinci in his masterpiece.
Archaeologists who are digging for the remains of the real-life Mona Lisa have found two new female skeletons.
The two bodies, one whole, the other fragmented, were found in the same grave in the basement of the former convent of St. Ursula.

Researchers digging in Florence have discovered two new female skeletons in the search for the Mona Lisa.

It is thought that the alleged 'model' for Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa Gherardini, was buried there after his death in 1542.
Yesterday's discovery brings the total number of skeletons found to seven.
'If everything goes as planned, we will find Gherardini and with her skull we will be able to reconstruct her face thanks to some sophisticated technology,' Mr Vinceti said yesterday.
'After that we will be able to compare the face to that of Mona Lisa and maybe for the first time will get an answer that will be based on highly sophisticated technology that does not make errors,' he told Sky TV.
'With this reconstruction of the face there is a margin of error between four and eight per cent so we will know whether Leonardo used Gherardini or we will be able to draw other conclusions.'

However, one of Gherardini's descendants, the Italian aristocrat Natalia Guicciadini Strozzi, has described the researchers' grave-digging project as a 'sacrilegious act'.
'What difference would finding her remains make to the allure of Leonardo's painting?' she said recently.
However, even if the skeletons are not the Mona Lisa, the team has vowed to keep digging.
Bodies were buried one on top of the other at the convent - so the team will keep digging, and reaching further back in history.

The latest discovery is of two skeletons, believed to be female, laying next to other.

The latest discovery comes amid renewed interest in the painting after the Zurich-based Mona Lisa Foundation unveiled what is known as the 'Isleworth Mona Lisa' to the public, and said mathematical analysis proved it was the hand of the Master at work.
But other experts remain unconvinced, with Oxford professor Martin Kemp telling the BBC there is 'no basis for thinking that there was an earlier portrait'.

Archaeologists have vowed to keep digging at the site, which contains dozens of bodies on top of each other. so far, seven skeletons have been found.

Vinceti recently found the body of a wealthy woman.
'The ledgers kept by the nuns of this convent tell us that, presumably, the remains are those of Maria Del Riccio, a wealthy woman who (died) in 1609,' he told reporters when the discovery was made.
But he added that he hoped 'Mona Lisa's' bones 'could be right here'.
Lisa Gheradini, was the wife of a rich silk merchant named Francesco del Giocondo. In Italy the Mona Lisa is known as La Gioconda.
Most modern historians agree that the lady depicted in the Mona Lisa was Lisa del Giocondo, who became a nun after her husband's death. She died in the convent on July 15, 1542, aged 63.

The face of Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" taken on April 5, 2005 in Paris' Louvre Museum (L) and the same detail of a picture released by the Mona Lisa Foundation of what is believed to be an earlier version of da Vinci's masterpiece.

An archeological team began digging at the abandoned Convent of Saint Ursula last year.
They first had to dig through thick concrete, laid down ahead of plans to turn the convent into an army barracks.
If they do find the body of Lisa Gherardini, the team hopes to extract her DNA to confirm her identity - comparing it to the DNA of her two children buried elsewhere.
Then they will use facial reconstruction techniques to compare her face to that of the iconic painting.
However some researchers have criticised the research, saying the pace of the expedition means error may be made - such as the team not mapping out where bones and other items are found, ruining evidence such as the spatial relationships between different bodies.

An archeologist works next to one of the two new skeletons found today during the 'hunt' of the remains of the alleged 'model' for Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa Gherardini.

LiveScience quoted University of North Carolina anthropologist Kristina Killgrove, who said: 'Although the excavation is being carried out in a professional manner, Vinceti’s quest to dig up the 'real' Mona Lisa is not grounded in scientific research methodology.
'The news media’s breathless coverage of it threatens to signal to the public that archaeologists are frivolous with their time, energy and research money.'

The convent was the burial site of Lisa Gherardini, wife of the wealthy Florentine silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo, who modelled for Leonardo Da Vinci

Resting place: The courtyard of the Saint Ursula convent in Florence, where archaeologists have been digging

source: dailymail

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