Cervantes remains found in Madrid convent, investigators believe

Tue Mar 17, 2015 11:27am EDT
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By Raquel Castillo

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish scientists said on Tuesday that remains found under a Madrid convent are likely to include those of "Don Quixote" author Miguel de Cervantes, one of the world's most celebrated writers.

Nearly 400 years after his death, the quest to find Cervantes had led investigators deep into the sub-soil of a 17th century convent. Some of bones dug up in recent months almost certainly belong to the writer, they said.

"We believe that some of the remains of Miguel de Cervantes are among the fragments," forensic anthropologist Francisco Etxeberria told a news conference.

Investigators may never be able to guarantee with absolute certainty that it was his body and DNA tests would be tricky, the experts said. Cervantes had a sister who is buried near Madrid, but only tiny bone fragments remain of her body.

Cervantes - whose masterpiece about an errant, daydreaming knight and his faithful servant Sancho Panza has delighted readers around the world - had requested to be buried in the convent.

The Trinitarian religious order had helped to pay a ransom to release him from slavery after he was captured by Moorish pirates.

He died in 1616 - the same week as William Shakespeare. But the exact location of his tomb was lost in a subsequent rebuilding of the convent.

Historians hope to establish a burial site for Cervantes, considered the father of the modern novel, to attract literary pilgrims and tourists. Madrid mayor Ana Botella said on Tuesday that authorities were looking into the possibility of opening up the site to visitors.   Continued...

Forensic archaeologist Francisco Etxeberria (C), historian Francisco Marin (R) and forensic anthropologist Almudena Garcia speak about the search of the remains of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes in Madrid March 17, 2015. REUTERS/Andrea Comas