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'Mona Lisa' tomb opened in Florence

Italian scientists opened the tomb of of Lisa Gherardini's family hoping to use DNA to identify the model for Leonardo da Vinci's 'Mona Lisa.'

Mona Lisa CloneEnlarge
Scientists in Florence opened a tomb to extract DNA hoping to identify the model for Leonardo da Vinci's 'Mona Lisa.' (JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

Italian scientists have opened a centuries-old tomb hoping to identify one of the great mysteries of the art world, namely, who is the "Mona Lisa."

The model for Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, which is one of the most famous paintings in world, has eluded both art historians and scientists for hundreds of years.

The "Mona Lisa" was painted sometime between 1503 and 1506 and draws millions of visitors to The Louvre each year for a glimpse of her cryptic smile.

On Friday, researchers in Florence opened the tomb containing the family of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a silk merchant who is thought to have sat for da Vinci.

Researcher Silvano Vinceti believes he can match DNA from bones in the family crypt back to Lisa Gherardini. Her remains are believed to be among three skeletons found in a nearby convent last year.

Lisa Gherardini was a nun when she died at Saint Ursula convent in 1542. Vinceti hopes to find bones of her son Piero, or another relative, to make a positive DNA match.

"When we find a match between mother and child, then we will have found the Mona Lisa," Vinceti said.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/italy/130810/mona-lisa-tomb-opened-dna-florence