The Hunt to Find Mona Lisa's SkullS

A team of researchers in Italy are on the hunt to find the real Mona Lisa. That lawn mower looking machine they're holding is actually a geo-radar device that will scan the ground to locate the skull of the mysterious woman with an even more mysterious smile.

It's an impressive undertaking! The goal is to excavate a convent in Florence, Italy to locate the remains of Lisa Gherardini. Why Gherardini? Because many art historians have theorized that she's the woman made infamous by Leonardo da Vinci's painting, the Mona Lisa.

Researchers hope to find whatever remains are left of her body—skull fragments, DNA, whatever—in hopes to re-create her face through facial reconstruction technology. If the bones can't be used, the researchers hope to carbon date them and take DNA samples to test with Gherardini's children, who are buried at a nearby church.

But not everyone is happy with this search. Natalia Guicciardini Strozzi, an Italian princess and descendant of Lisa Gherardini, wants her ancestor's remains to be left in peace. She says:

"What difference would finding her remains make to the allure of Leonardo's painting? The attempt to find her bones seems to me an inappropriate and sacrilegious act."

It does seem a little brash and insensitive to go digging for bones but this expedition could solve one of the world's biggest mysteries. Ignoring what the princess has said though, the researchers have started their hunt. They'll use the geo-radar for 3 days to analyze what's underneath the convent and then spend the next two weeks digging and excavating the site.

The team of researchers is led by Silvano Vinceti, the researcher who unlocked the code behind the painting but also once said Lisa Gherardini was not the Mona Lisa. I guess he changed his tune. [BBC, Telegraph UK]