Mystery Solved: Mona Lisa Remains Discovered in Florence?

Last week, archaeologists found a site in Florence that could very well change the landscape of art history as we know it. They’re saying that they found Mona Lisa!

Who is Mona Lisa? Theories

The Mona Lisa is perhaps the most famous artwork in the world, not least because of its history and the mystery of the smiling woman. The most popular theory is that the painting is a portrayal of Lisa Gherardini – wife of a rich merchant who commissioned the portrait. However, this has not been proven definitively.

There have been theories circulating around The Mona Lisa pretty much since da Vinci’s death in the 17th century. One theory claims that the painting is of Leonardo himself dressed in drag. According to another, the Mona Lisa smile should be attributed to an unknown Spanish courtesan. Some even believe that the painting is of Leonardo’s male apprentice and rumoured lover Salai. It appears, however, that a recent find in Florence might finally shed some light on the mystery of The Mona Lisa.

Close Up of Mona Lisa's smile

Close Up of Mona Lisa’s smile, Credits: Wikimedia

What was found in Florence?

Robert Langdon-esque find in Florence just a few days ago is a discovery of an ancient crypt and a collection of several bones. After four years of digging, archaeologists are claiming that the bones might belong to none other than Lisa Gherardini. Scientific tests have shown that the remains of the skeleton date back to 1542, the year Gherardini was supposed to have died. According to several historical sources, the archaeological site is the very place she was buried.

The alleged bones of Madame Gherardini were surrounded by other sets of remains, believed to be her children’s. However, the bone fragments were unfortunately too damaged to prove that beyond reasonable doubt.

A human skeleton is seen at the excavation of a grave inside the medieval Convent of Saint Ursula in Florence on July 17, 2012, during research for the burial site of Lisa Gherardini

A human skeleton is seen at the excavation of a grave inside the medieval Convent of Saint Ursula in Florence on July 17, 2012, during research for the burial site of Lisa Gherardini, via patheos.com

Is the mystery solved?

Archaeologists and forensic anthropologists say that it is highly possible that the discovered remains are of Lisa Gherardini. However, despite the overwhelming historical and scientific evidence, they’re unprepared to make a claim that the bones found at the site belong to her. Since there was no skull found at the site, it’s impossible to digitally reconstruct the deceased’s face and tell whether she is who people believe her to be. In fact, it’s actually impossible to say whether the skeleton is male or female at this point, because the bones are quite deteriorated. Besides, right now it would be quite hard to perform any DNA tests because there’s no sample to compare it to.

Even if the bones are proven to be Lisa Gherardini’s, without a skull we can’t know for sure whether she was the model for The Mona Lisa. The enigmatic smile would perhaps have been possible to digitally reconstruct if a skull had been found at the site. At this point, given the abundance of theories circulating around as to the identity of the Mona Lisa, all we can do is speculate and hope that the Florentian find can shed some light on the mystery.

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