The 400-year old remains of Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote, have been recovered, Spanish researchers reported today.
The search for the remains of the literary giant began in earnest last April when a 30-person research team began to use infrared cameras, 3D scanners, and ground-penetrating radar to see what lies under Madrid's Convento de las Monjas Trinitarias Descalzas. According to historical accounts, Cervantes asked to be buried in the convent after the religious order helped secure his release from pirates. Records show his wish was granted, and he was buried in Madrid in 1616 — just a year after publishing the second part of Don Quixote: The Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha.
The Guardian reports on what the researchers found:
During their search, researchers identified 33 alcoves where the bones could have been stored. Their quest began to look less quixotic earlier this year when part of a casket bearing the author's initials was found in the convent's crypt.
They had hoped the search would be guided by clues from the author's life, such as the loss of the use of his left hand when he was 24 and the fact that he had taken at least one bullet to the chest. On Tuesday, Prado said that no bones had been found bearing these traits.
Instead, based on historical and archeological evidence such as the age of the bones and remnants of clothing, the team said it was confident that some of the bones belonged to Cervantes and his wife, Catalina de Salazar.
Prado, who spent more than four years trying to find funding before Madrid city council said it would foot the cost of the search, said he was thrilled. "It's an enormous satisfaction. The searching has been tiring – I feel as if I've arrived at the end of a long hike."
DNA testing will now be conducted to confirm the findings. But seeing as Cervantes has no known relatives, the archaeologists don't have much to go by. More research will have to be carried out to make the finding more definitive.
[ The Guardian ]