'Mona Lisa' Skeleton: DNA Testing May Prove Florentine Tomb Holds Skeletal Remains Of Leonardo Da Vinci's Famous Model [PHOTOS]

By Philip Ross on August 9, 2013 5:46 PM EDT

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Researchers open a tomb in the stone church floor above the family crypt of Florentine silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo at the Santissima Annunziata basilica in Florence. (Photo: Reuters)
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A researcher shows remains inside a tomb opened in the stone church floor above the family crypt of Florentine silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo in the Santissima Annunziata basilica in Florence. (Photo: Reuters)

Will the real Mona Lisa please stand up? Researchers in Italy may have found the remains of the genuine Mona Lisa - long thought to be Lisa Gherardini Del Giocondo - buried in the basement of a former Ursuline convent in Florence. Scientists will use DNA testing to determine if the "Mona Lisa" skeleton is the real deal.

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The enigmatic young woman in Leonardo Da Vinci's famous Italian masterpiece has puzzled scientists and scholars for years. But modern scholars pretty much agree that the face of Mona Lisa belonged to Lisa Gherardini Del Giocondo, a 15th-century merchant's wife and member of an aristocratic Florentine family who died in a Florentine convent in the mid-1500s.

And this morning in Italy, researchers are prying open a centuries-old crypt at the Basilica della Santissima Annuziata in Florence, which holds the remains of Francesco Del Giocondo, the cloth merchant who married Lisa, and their two sons.

They'll then compare the DNA of the two sons to the DNA of the remains they found in the convent to determine if the skeleton found in the convent belongs to Lisa Gherardini Del Giocondo

The skeleton believed to belong to Mona Lisa was discovered about a year ago when archaeologists unearthed several skeletons in the basement of a former Ursuline convent, where researchers say Lisa Gherardini was buried.

"Right now we are carrying out carbon-14 tests on three of the eight skeletons found in St. Ursula, which could be the age Lisa Gherardini was when she died," Silvano Vinceti, who heads Italy's national committee for cultural heritage, told ANSA. "The carbon-14 test will tell us which of the three dates back to the 1500s. Only then will we know which skeleton to do the final DNA test on."

Researchers delved into the centuries-old Florentine tomb at the Basilica della Santissima Annuziata earlier today.

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