• Spain's news in English

Cervantes has been found…or has he?

Fiona Govan · 17 Mar 2015, 13:18

Published: 17 Mar 2015 13:18 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A team of scientists said that after a year-long quest they could report that they discovery of what they believed were "some fragments" of the author of Don Quixote who died in 1616 and was buried according to his wishes at the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid.

But that a lack of DNA made it impossible to say definitively.

"It is possible to say after analyzing all the information that it is considered that amid the fragments of those discovered in the crypt of the church of the Trinitarians there are some fragments belonging to Miguel de Cervantes," said forensic anthropologist Francisco Etxeberria.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday morning at Madrid’s City Hall, the head of the scientific team was at pains to point out however, that there was no scientific proof of the find at this stage.

He said the conclusion had been arrived at "in view of all the information generated in the case of character historical, archaeological and anthropological. There are many coincidences but no discrepancies."


Francisco Etxeberria explaining the team's findings on Tuesday. Photo: Gerard Julien / AFP


The team said that more forensic research was needed. "Phase three of the project would be to see whether it was possible to extract DNA from the damaged fragments and then whether it was possible to test against DNA extracted from the remains of his known relative," said Etxeberria.

If his remains could be isolated then the aim would be to preserve them in a new tomb.

Cervantes would be reburied "with full honours" in the same convent after a new tomb had been built, according to his wishes, Investigator Luis Avial told the news conference.

"Cervantes asked to be buried there and there he should stay," he said.

Thorough examination of the convent that began last April with surveys using 3D scanners and ground-penetrating radar had led to the discovery of a crypt.

In January the team announced the discovery of a casket in the crypt beneath the convent. A fragment of a board of one of the caskets had the letters "M.C." formed
in tacks.

Investigators on Tuesday reported finding bone fragments in an advanced "state of deterioration" belonging to between 15 and 17 people. The remains included at least five children, ten adults of whom were identified as men and four as women.

Among them were believed to be remains of Cervantes and his wife, Catalina de Salazar y Palacios.

Story continues below…

When the project was announced almost a year ago it was hoped that the remains of Cervantes could be identified from injuries sustained in his life.

Cervantes was shot twice in the chest and once in his left hand during a1571 naval conflict, the Battle of Lepanto, in which the Holy League led by Spain defeated the Ottoman fleet.

Born near Madrid in 1547, Cervantes has been dubbed the father of themodern novel for "The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha", published in two parts in 1605 and 1615.

The book is thought to be one of the most widely read and translated books in the world.

Cervantes died penniless on April 26 1615, the same date as William Shakespeare.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Fiona Govan (fiona.govan@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spain under pressure to stop refuel of Russian warships
Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is due to arrive in Ceuta. Photo: Mil Ru / Wikimedia

Spain is facing international pressure to refuse permission for a Russian warship flotilla to refuel in Ceuta en route to continuing airstrikes against the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Most wanted: Fugitive rapist arrested in Tenerife
Mohammed Jahangir Alam was arrested n Tenerife. Photo: Crimestoppers.

Mohammed Jahangir Alam, one of Britain's most wanted fugitives, who fled the country in 2008 after allegedly raping a woman, was found working in Tenerife.

Spain's Rajoy says king has tasked him with forming govt
Photo: AFP

Spain's king on Tuesday tasked Mariano Rajoy with forming a government, taking the acting conservative prime minister a step closer to power again after a 10-month political deadlock.

Two imams arrested in Ibiza resort over 'Isis support'
The men were arrested in the resort of Sant Antoni de Portmany. Photo: Jose A / Flickr

Two Moroccan imams at a mosque on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of backing the Islamic State group and inciting jihad.

Balearic Islands choose to keep summertime forever
The islands will have longer evenings during winter. Photo: AFP

The Balearic Islands want to keep summertime when the rest of Spain turns the clocks back on Sunday.

  Brazilian had 'uncontrollable desire to kill': Spain police
Francois Patrick Nogueira Gouveia has been charged with murdering his uncle, his wife and their two children. Photo: Guardia Civil.

A Brazilian teenager accused of dismembering his uncle and aunt and killing their two young sons in a grisly crime that shocked Spain had an "uncontrollable desire to kill", police said on Monday.

Man rescued from bin after climbing in to find old clothes
Photo: Policía Local Murcia

Police were called after passersby reported hearing a man calling for help from within a rubbish bin in the Vistabella neighbourhood of Murcia, southern Spain.

Spain faces crucial week as conservatives re-take power
Mariano Rajoy hopes to form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain entered a crucial week as acting conservative PM Mariano Rajoy prepared to re-take power, ending ten rollercoaster months without government marked by hope and disillusion.

Eight very creepy Halloween costumes ideas from Spain
Photo: Pan's Labyrinth

Forget flamenco dancers and bullfighters, The Local counts down the freakiest alternative costume ideas to dress up in this Halloween.

Man attacked by racist thug in UK street for talking Spanish

Tomas Gil, 27, from Valencia in eastern Spain was talking to his girlfriend in their native language after a night out in the British seaside town of Poole when he was set upon by a racist thug.

Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
jobs available