Forensic scientists say they have found the tomb of Miguel de Cervantes, author of the classic novel Don Quixote, nearly 400 years after his death, BBC News reported.
They believe they have found the bones of Spain’s much-loved literary giant, his wife and others recorded as buried with him in Madrid’s Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians.
Separating and identifying his badly damaged bones from the other fragments will be difficult, researchers say.
Cervantes was buried in 1616 but his coffin was later lost.
When the convent was rebuilt late in the 17th century, his remains were moved into the new building, and it has taken centuries to rediscover the tomb of the man known as Spain’s “Prince of Letters”.
“His end was that of a poor man. A war veteran with his battle wounds,” said Pedro Corral, head of art, sport and tourism at Madrid city council.
The team of 30 researchers used infrared cameras, 3D scanners and ground-penetrating radar to pinpoint the burial site, in a forgotten crypt beneath the building.
Further analysis may allow the team to separate the bones of Cervantes from those of the others if they can use DNA analysis to work out which bones do not belong to the author.
Investigator Luis Avial told a news conference Tuesday Cervantes would be reburied “with full honours” in the same convent after a new tomb had been built.
“Cervantes asked to be buried there and there he should stay,” Avial said.
The convent’s religious order helped pay his ransom after he was captured by pirates and held prisoner for five years in Algiers.
The crypt will be opened to the public next year for the first time in centuries to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Cervantes’ death.
Born near Madrid in 1547, Cervantes has been dubbed the father of the modern novel. The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha was published in two parts, in 1605 and 1615.
The book is one of the most widely read and translated in the world.
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