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Search Begins for Cervantes' Remains

  • VOA News

Two operators scan the altar with a Ground Penetration Radar at the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in the historic Barrio de las Letras, or Literary Quarter in Madrid, Spain, April 28, 2014.

Two operators scan the altar with a Ground Penetration Radar at the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in the historic Barrio de las Letras, or Literary Quarter in Madrid, Spain, April 28, 2014.

The search is on for the remains of arguably the most important figure in Spanish literature, Miguel de Cervantes.

Researchers in Spain are planning to use ground penetrating radar to search the floor of a Madrid convent for the bones of the author of what is considered the world’s first novel, "The Adventures of the Ingenious Nobleman Don Quixote of La Mancha."

Records show Cervantes died in poverty at 69 on April 22, 1616. His remains were reportedly entombed in the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid's historic Barrio de las Letras, or literary quarter. The exact location of the remains within the convent is unknown.

The convent does have a plaque honoring the famous author.

Researchers say they will focus on the oldest part of the convent first, but that finding, exhuming and identifying the remains could take months.

"The radar cannot tell you whether it is the body of the writer, but it can indicate the place of burial," Luis Avial told reporters on Friday.

Avial, who’s leading the team added that the while the radar can find the bones, the process of exhuming them will be “delicate.”

Experts say that while there are no known living descendants of Cervantes, they will be able to confirm the remains based on some physical traits Cervantes was believed to have.

For one, he was reported to only have six teeth at the time of his death.

More noticeable, perhaps, would be wounds Cervantes received while aboard the ship La Marquesa at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, during which he was reportedly hit with three musket shots, two in the chest and one in the arm which rendered the limb useless.

The cost of the endeavor is expected to be $138,000.
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