Spain narrows search for Cervantes
Posted on 01/24/19 6:22 PM
Researchers looking for the remains of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote, say they have identified five spots in a Madrid church where his bones may lie.
Scientists used infrared cameras, 3D scanners and a ground-penetrating radar to pinpoint the five areas at the church of the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians where human remains may be found, forensic anthropologist Francisco Etxeberria who is leading the search said on Monday.
They will now search these locations for bones, starting in the crypt which appeared to have about 30 alcoves where bones could be stored, he told a news conference.
“It is like a patient who is going to have surgery, doctors must take X-rays first,” said Etxeberria, who participated in the autopsy that confirmed the suicide of former Chilean president Salvador Allende.
“We don’t want to generate false hopes. I don’t know if we are going to find him.”
Cervantes is recorded as having been buried in the church a day after his death in poverty on April 22, 1616.
The church has been expanded over the centuries, however, and the exact whereabouts of the writer’s remains have been forgotten.
Madrid mayor Ana Botella told the news conference that the city would finance this next phase in the search.
Etxeberria’s team launched what is the first significant search for the remains of the greatest writer of the Spanish Golden Age at the end of April.
If human bones are found in the church, forensic scientists will rely on the author’s specific physical characteristics as documented in portraits or his own stories to identify his remains.
Cervantes received three musket shots, two in the chest and one in his left hand, during the 1571 naval conflict, the Battle of Lepanto, in which the Holy League led by Spain defeated the Ottoman fleet.
The shooting caused him to lose the use of his hand and is believed to have left marks on his bones.
Etxeberria said there was no timeline for when scientist would start looking for bones in the church.
“We are talking about a universal figure, there is no rush, seriously,” he said
If Cervantes’s remains are identified, it is planned that he remain buried in the convent, which is still inhabited by nuns and has been designated part of Madrid’s cultural heritage since 1921.
Born near Madrid in 1547, Cervantes has been dubbed the father of the modern novel for The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, published in two parts in 1605 and 1615.