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Mona Lisa’s Body Might Soon Be Exhumed

The woman suspected to be the subject of Leonardo Da Vinci's famous painting might be buried in a church in Florence

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The famous painting

There might soon be a body connected to the mysterious woman behind the Mona Lisa painting—quite literally. The remains of Lisa Gherardini, the woman art historians think is the subject of the famous portrait, are about to be exhumed from beneath a church in Florence. They just found other bones, as Discovery writes:

“The skeleton doesn’t belong to the Mona Lisa, but it’s hinting to her burial. Indeed, she might be just underneath,” Silvano Vinceti, president of a private organization known as the National Committee for the Promotion of Historic and Cultural Heritage, told a news conference on Wednesday.

Vicenti is a controversial figure in art history. He has previously claimed that the Mona Lisa was full of hidden letters and numbers. But his decision to dig in the Convent of St. Orsola was based on documents that traced Gherardini’s life from 1479 to her death, 63 years later.

They have until the end of October to excavate the grave, hoping to find Gherardini’s bones. They’re looking at this particular site because Vicenti’s unearthed records show that only two non-nuns were ever buried at St. Orsola—Gherardini and a woman named Maria Del Riccio. Archaeologists think they found Del Riccio’s bones, and Vicenti is banking on Gherardini’s being beneath them. If they do find more bones, the identity will be confirmed using DNA – since researchers have the bones of Gherardini’s children.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Seeking Mona Lisa
Stolen: How the Mona Lisa Became the World’s Most Famous Painting

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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