MIGUEL DE CERVANTES.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
MADRID – Human bones and the crumbling remains of a casket believed to belong to Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes were discovered last week, close to the Prado museum.
What was left of the casket was a collection of old boards, one of which has the initials “MC” spelled out on it in metal tacks, a spokesman for the Madrid Municipality said.
Four teams of 30 researchers and technicians, using state-of-the-art technology, are involved in a search that began last spring in Madrid’s Barrio de las Letras (Writers’ Quarter) for the physical remains of the famed author.
The timing of the municipality- sponsored project is not accidental, as 2016 will mark 400 years since Cervantes’s death. He lived in that quarter, and several antique documents speak of his burial there as well.
If researchers prove that he was buried in Crypt No. 1 of a small church on the grounds of the San Ildefonso Convent of the Trinitarian Mothers, some historical juggling will be necessary. Among other things, such findings would relocate his birthplace from Alcalá de Henares – today a Madrid suburb – to the “mountains of Leon” that he so often mentions in the text of his magnum opus.
The province of Leon, and in particular the mountains between it and the neighboring province of Zamora, are currently the subject of crypto-Jewish research by the Isaac Campanton Center of Zamora.
Confirming Cervantes’s Leonese origins would also confirm his crypto- Jewish life, said Cervantes expert Santiago Trancon.
At a recent news conference in Madrid, forensic expert Francisco Etxeberria was cautious in his announcement of the find, saying that at present there was no scientific confirmation of the discovery.
While historical documentation, oral tradition and now technology point to these remains as being those of the writer, many further tests still need to be done. For one thing, examination of the bones must coincide with physical deformities and injuries Cervantes is known to have had, especially after his intervention in the 1571 Battle of Lepanto.