March 19, 2015

Spain Finds Don Quixote Writer Cervantes' Tomb In Madrid


Forensic scientists say they have found the tomb of Spain's much-loved giant of literature, Miguel de Cervantes, nearly 400 years after his death.

They believe they have found the bones of Cervantes, 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. 

The Don Quixote author 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.

Inside one of 33 niches found against the far wall, archaeologists discovered a number of adult bones matching a group of people with whom Cervantes had been buried, before their tombs were disturbed and moved into the crypt. 

"The remains are in a bad state of conservation and do not allow us to do an individual identification of Miguel de Cervantes," said forensic scientist Almudena Garcia Rubio.

"But we are sure what the historical sources say is the burial of Miguel de Cervantes and the other people buried with him is what we have found." 

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.
  • 1547: Born near Madrid
  • 1571: Shot and wounded at Battle of Lepanto
  • 1575: Captured and enslaved for five years in Algiers
  • 1605: Publishes first part of The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, second part in 1615. Don Quixote is man obsessed with chivalry who sets out in search of adventure on his ageing horse Rocinante and with his faithful squire Sancho Panza
  • 1616: Cervantes dies aged 68, with six teeth remaining. Buried at Convent of Barefoot Trinitarians
  • Grave lost when convent rebuilt
By Camilla Ruzz
Above: Peter O'Toole as Don Quizote in the film musical.
It was also a stage play and is no doubt being performed somewhere around the world. I really enjoyed the play as I saw it three times, and also the film.
With many thanks to The BBC
Picture credit: Spanish Culture

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