We're Getting Closer to Finding Mona Lisa's Skeleton

Researchers who've been hunting for Mona Lisa's skeleton are now opening up a family tomb in hopes of confirming Mona Lisa's existence. They want to confirm that bones they found last year under a convent are the remains of Lisa Gherardini. The family tomb they're cracking open is the resting place for Gherardini's two sons and husband. DNA testing would confirm their relation.

Lisa Gherardini has long been theorized to be the woman in Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa but finding factual proof has been tough to come by (that Da Vinci dude is mysterious, apparently). However, Silvano Vincenti and his team of researchers believe they can prove the theory true or false with a combination of DNA testing on her and her sons' remains to prove their relation and virtual facial reconstruction using the skeleton's bone structure.

Find Gherardini first. Find out if she's really Mona Lisa after.

To do this the researchers want to know if some of the bones found last year under the convent are that of Lisa Gherardini (she became a nun at that convent after her husband passed). And they need to prove it by opening up the Gherardini family tomb in the Martyrs' Crypt behind the main altar of Florence's Basilica della Santissima Annuziata to compare skeletons with her sons' remains. It hasn't been opened for 300 years.

Vincenti told Italian newswire ANSA:

"Right now we are carrying out carbon-14 tests on three of the eight skeletons found in St. Ursula, which could be the age Lisa Gherardini was when she died. The carbon-14 test will tell us which of the three dates back to the 1500s. Only then will we know which skeleton to do the final DNA test on."

If the skeleton turns out to be Lisa, the researchers will be able to answer more questions through forensic testing on the most mysterious woman in art. [ANSA, NBC News]