Archaeologists Dig Up Skeleton In Search For Mona Lisa (But Not Hers)

A team of archaeologists have been digging for the remains of the real-life Mona Lisa and have unearthed a skeleton. Sadly, according to news reports, the skeleton they dug up is not the remains of the Florentine noblewoman.

NBC News reports that the team is excavating underneath a former covenant in Central Florence. They are are searching for the body of Lisa Gherardini, the woman thought to the be the model of da Vinci’s famous “Mona Lisa”.

The skeleton that the archaeologists uncovered is the fourth that they have found at the site. Lead researcher, Silvano Vinceti, believes that the remains are from a rich woman who died decades after Lisa Gherardini.

“The ledgers kept by the nuns of this convent tell us that, presumably, the remains exhumed today are those of Maria Del Riccio, a wealthy woman who (died) in 1609,” Vinceti told a news conference Wednesday.

Vincetti also said that the graves underneath the covenant were buried on top of each othere, so he believes that they could find Gherardini if they keep digging deeper.

With Gherardini’s remains, researchers could reconstruct her face and compare it to da Vinci’s painting. The research team also plans extract DNA from the remains in order to compare it to the remains of Gherardini’s two children, who are buried in a different cemetery.

There are some people stating their skepticism about these goals. They are saying that facial reconstruction is often unreliable and that a DNA match with her kids might only mean that they found one of her relatives.

Other archaeologists are saying that the quick pace of releasing various finds at the dig could possibly be problematic.

“Although the excavation is being carried out in a professional manner, Vinceti’s quest to dig up the ‘real’ Mona Lisa is not grounded in scientific research methodology,” writes University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill anthropologist Kristina Killgrove on her blog, noting that Vinceti is not a scientist. “The news media’s breathless coverage of it threatens to signal to the public that archaeologists are frivolous with their time, energy and research money.”