DNA testing the remains of da Vinci might tell us more about this fascinating man’s life. During the French revolution of 1789, Leonardo da Vinci’s s remains where moved from their original burial site and take to Amboise castle to be laid once again to rest.
No one has ever been able to confirm the tomb at Amboise is da Vinci’s and contains his remains; it is simply a symbolic location until DNA tests on the supposed remains within the tomb prove that the bones are da Vinci’s.
Moreover, the fact that the bones where moved in such turbulent times is already a problem. More importantly, the state of preservation of the bones is of pivotal importance. If they are well preserved the genetic information DNA tests can give will be priceless; they can track parts of the artist’s life. However, there is a chance the bones might have been reduced to dust if exposed to certain environmental conditions, like humidity and fluctuating temperatures.
Is it Da Vinci- What can DNA testing tell us?
To confirm whether the remains are da Vinci’s, analysts need to compare the DNA profiles with either living descendents of da Vinci, of which none are known, or with dead relatives of the artist. Regarding any dead relatives, there are no definitive ones known and there are no known living descendents, apart from a brother who is said to have been buried in Bologna.
If the remains provide enough DNA for forensic analysis and a DNA profile is drawn up, scientists still need another DNA sample taken from another source that allegedly belongs to the artist. This is because in order to identify the artist they need to have a match between two DNA sources allegedly belonging to the artist. One potential alternative source of DNA is to be found in Leonardo’s paintings. The artist is believed to have often licked his finger to smudge his paints to create effect. If he really did, then there will be cheek cells of da Vinci on his paintings. This is a rather long shot, but may be a feasible way of extracting DNA to create a DNA profile that can be compared with the bone fragments.
The bones will even provide insight into how the artist died, likely to be of syphilis or tuberculosis, which were rampant diseases at the time. If he died of these diseases, then the bones will show evidence.
The French authorities will not make things easy. But the leader of the group says that the only way to solve the enigma surrounding the artist’s life and his remains is by using advanced DNA testing techniques.
Da Vinci’s DNA testing – further reading
DNA experts want to find out how the artist died and more importantly, whether the remains in Amboise castle are really da Vinci’s given the lack of records around the 500 years since his burial. DNA bone sample are one of the very few samples that they may be able to use. Read more.