Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa Wikimedia Commons

Archaeologists digging at the Saint Ursula convent in the Italian city of Florence have found the skeleton of a woman they claim was Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a silk merchant in the city and the woman who was widely thought to be the subject of the painting Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.

The scientists believe the skeleton matches the skull of an unidentified female, unearthed last year at the same site. However, DNA tests meant to establish the connection between the two have yet to be carried out. It is believed Lisa Gherardini died in 1542 and was buried at a Florentine convent.

"We don't know yet if the bones belong to one single skeleton or more than one. But this confirms our hypothesis that in St Ursula convent there are still human bones and we cannot exclude that among them there are bones belonging to Lisa Gherardini," archaeologist-in-charge Silvano Vinceti, who has worked on the Mona Lisa mystery for some time now, was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail. Incidentally, last year Vinceti claimed he found da Vinci's initials - LV - in the eyes of the woman in the painting.

Meanwhile, the researchers also plan to compare DNA from the skeleton to that from the bones of Gherardini's children, who are said to be buried nearby. They will then attempt to reconstruct the face of the skeleton, with the help of forensic artists, to see if it is similar to the woman in the Mona Lisa painting.

Leonardo da Vinci was believed to have completed the painting, which is on permanent display at the Musée du Louvre in Paris, in the early 16th century. The painting was stolen in 1911, which was when it truly shot to worldwide fame. Since then, there have been several rumours, speculations and reports concerning everything about the portrait and its subject, including the smile, the posture and the eyes. The Mona Lisa is easily the most talked about art piece in the world.