Skip to comments.DNA Results Could ID Columbus
Posted on 01/22/2004 8:15:04 AM PST by blam
DNA Results Could ID Columbus
By Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News
Jan. 21, 2004 The long-standing cultural dispute over Christopher Columbus' final resting place could take a new turn as further DNA tests are carried out by an Italian university.
DNA technology will be applied by the University of Pavia's laboratories to fragments of bones now kept in a box in the university's library. The remains come from Santo Domingo, one of Columbus' debated burial places.
"They were given by the bishop of Santo Domingo to Pavia University in 1880, as it was thought that Columbus studied here. They could be enough to conduct DNA tests," Anna Maria Campanini Stella, director of the university library, told Discovery News.
Though the analysis would destroy the remnants, the Italian investigation could solve forever Columbus' riddle. Is Columbus buried in the Gothic cathedral of Santa Maria in Seville, the city from where he set sail in 1492, or is he resting under a cross-shaped lighthouse in Santo Domingo, where he made his historic landfall in the New World?
The man who discovered America travelled as much after his death as in his life. In his testament, Columbus requested his remains to be taken to what is today the Dominican Republic. Yet he was initially buried in the Castilian city of Valladolid, where he died on May 20, 1506.
He remained there only three years as his bones were disinterred and moved to Seville's Carthusian monastery. In 1537 they were finally sent for burial in Santo Domingo, along with the body of his legitimate son, Diego.
But in 1795, the French took control of the island and the Spaniards then moved Columbus' bones to Havana, Cuba. In 1898, when the Spaniards were thrown out of Cuba, the remains were taken back to Seville and buried in the cathedral.
The Great Debate
The debate began when a box bearing the inscription "illustrious and enlightened male Don Cristobal Colon" and containing bone fragments was found in Santo Domingo's cathedral in 1877.
According to the Dominicans, in 1795 the Spaniards took the wrong body, that of Columbus' son Diego, buried nearby.
In the attempt to solve the mystery, Spanish scientists exhumed this summer Columbus' supposed remains in Seville Cathedral, as well as those of his brother Diego and his son Hernando.
Granada University expert José Antonio Lorente Acosta is now conducting DNA analysis to find out whether the two sets of bones are related to those of Hernando, whose identity is certain.
"We are in touch with Dr. Lorente and are waiting for his results, which should possibly come within two-three months. If the Seville DNA doesn't match, then our investigation could be resolutive," Campanini Stella said.
Since authorities in Santo Domingo have not allowed the exhumation of the remains buried under the lighthouse, DNA tests on the bones in Pavia could provide a definitive answer to the Caribbean tomb.
DNA tests could also reveal whether Columbus was Spanish or Italian the son of Genoese wool trader Domenico Colombo or the illegitimate son of Spain's Prince of Viana.
Pavia University would also verify a third hypothesis, that Columbus was the son of Pope Innocent VIII.
"The physical resemblance between the two is really impressive," Ruggero Marino, who formulated the claim in a book on Columbus' Vatican links, told Discovery News.
According to Marino, Innocent VIII would have dispatched Columbus on his voyage of discovery hoping to use the gold of the New World to fund Crusades. But at his death, his successor Alexander VI, the Spanish-born Borgia Pope, would have covered up the origins of the venture, giving credits to the Spanish throne.
"The problem of Columbus' remains has so many dark points. The new claim on Innocent VIII is intriguing. We must remember that when Columbus was born in 1451, Giovan Battista Cybo, the future Pope Innocent VIII, was bishop of Savona, some 40 kilometers westward of Genoa," Cuban expert Miguel Esquivel, author of several books on Columbus, told Discovery News.
Isabella was a close relative of Rene (and most of the other royals, who were, of course, close relatives to each other).
Rene's biggest source of cash income was the wool trade. He shipped wool from Iceland to Turkey where it was made into rugs. Rene was also a Cardinal although he is credited with having had 2 wives and 3 concubines (all of noble lineage ~ kings, that sort of thing).
My bet's on Rene and Christopher having a "close" kinship ~ they were both redheads too, and that other guy, the Pope, who has a remarkable resemblance to Columbus ~ well, there were a variety of ways that could have come about!
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