Archaeologists convinced that they’ve unearthed the secret behind the world’s most famous painting, the Mona Lisa.
Buried beneath the floor of a convent in Florence, Italy they’ve found a skeleton they believe belonged to Lisa Gherardini, the model who posed for Leonardo’s da Vinci’s mysterious masterpiece.
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.
An archaeological 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.
But they quickly struck gold, finding a crypt they believe to have been Lisa’s final resting place and soon after they unearthed a female-sized human skull.
The skull was found five feet under the convent’s original floor along with other fragments of human ribs and vertebrae.
Plans to continue the dig were suspended when the team ran out of funds, but they were able to resume last month.
And this week, they found a human skeleton.
The bones will undergo tests to establish if they match the skull found last year. Scientists will then compare the DNA in the bones with the remains of the model’s two children who were buried nearby .
Once they have verified the skeleton and skull belong to the model orensic artists will attempt to reconstruct her face to see how it compares to the 500-year-old version painted by da Vinci – and perhaps solve the riddle of the Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile in the process.
The Mona Lisa is an oil on panel painting owned by the French government and the image is so widely recognised and caricatured that it is considered the most famous painting in the world.
Da Vinci started to paint it in 1503 or 1504 and finished it in 1519, shortly before his death, and after he had moved to France.