(FLORENCE, Italy) — The bones of Mona Lisa, the woman who posed for Leonardo da Vinci’s famous masterpiece in the 1500s, may be located beneath an altar in an Italian church, according to researchers.
Archaeologists in Florence have discovered skulls and human bones in the former convent of St. Ursula. The bones are about 200 years older than the woman believed to be Mona Lisa, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.
Now, lead researcher Silvano Vinceti tells ABC News that the scientists are hopeful the Mona Lisa’s remains may be found beneath a recently-discovered altar in the church.
Da Vinci’s famous painting is thought to be a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of merchant Francesco del Giocondo, who posed for da Vinci in the mid-1500s. Gherardini joined the St. Ursula convent after Giocondo died and was buried there after her 1542 death, according to ANSA.
The bones will be tested at the University of Bologna for DNA matches to the bones of Mona Lisa’s two sons, Vinceti told ABC News.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Barbara Starr, Tom LoBianco, Holly Yan and Jim Sciutto, CNN Newswire
Oren Liebermann, CNN Newswire