In an attempt to identify the woman who posed for Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa," researchers have excavated the bones of a Florence tomb.
Researchers have excavated the remains of a tomb in Florence with an inscription that reads the remains belong to the husband and children of Lisa Gherardini. Many believe that Gherardini is the woman who posed for Da Vinci.
Female bones that were previously found in a Florence convent are believed to belong to Gherardini, but little scientific proof has been made available. Now researchers will attempt to take the DNA from the bones of one of Gherardini's children and compare it to the bones found in the convent.
Gherardini's married name is "Gioconda" -- used in Italy to refer to the Mona Lisa. Gherardini spent the last years of her life at the Saint Orsola convent, where the bones of three women were discovered. One of the remains may belong to Gherardini, Silvano Vinceti, a writer and researcher who heads Italy's National Committee for the Promotion of Historic and Cultural Heritage, told Reuters.
"For centuries, historians the world over have been coming up with various theories about who this enigmatic, mysterious woman could have been," he told journalists outside the Santissima Annunziata basilica in Florence.
Desire for the bone hunt has been fueled by the hope that once Gherardini's bones can be indentified, a facial reconstruction can be created to match the resemblance of Gherardini to the Mona Lisa.
"When we find a match between mother and child - then we will have found the Mona Lisa," he said.
The "Mona Lisa" is currently housed at the Louvre museum in France where it is one of the museum's most popular attractions.
"If we succeed, we can finally resolve three questions which have obsessed historians and art-lovers worldwide," Vinceti said. "Was Gherardini the model for the Mona Lisa? Or was it some other model, as some people say? Or is it just a construction of the painter's fantasy?"