Caravaggio's bones found
Scientists in Italy are 85% certain that they have found Caravaggio’s bones in the crypt of a church near Porto Ercole [Tuscany] where the artist died in mysterious circumstances in 1610. Researchers from four Italian universities analysed 200 sets of bones from the ossuary and used carbon dating to identify those which would have belonged to men in their thirties. [There is some doubt over Caravaggio’s birth date but it is generally thought to have been 1571.]
The scientists then ran DNA tests on the selected bones – comprising a skull fragment, a femur and 2 fragments of jaw - and only one set matched Caravaggio’s “profile” with regard to age, gender, period and height. The bones also contained high levels of lead and other metals used in the paints of Caravaggio’s time.
Most importantly, the DNA is compatible with that of the artist’s presumed relatives in the town of Caravaggio [Lombardy]. It is from this town that the artist, whose real name was Michelangelo Merisi, takes his name.
The cause of Caravaggio’s death has always been a mystery but some scientists now believe that he died of sunstroke whilst in a weakened state due to syphilis. The researchers want to give the bones a fitting burial but first they will be put on display at Porto Ercole.
Would you go to see Caravaggio’s bones?