(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers in Spain have opened the tomb of a 15th-century cleric and exhumed his bones in an attempt to test the theory that Christopher Columbus hailed from Spain’s northwestern region of Galicia, not the Republic of Genoa.
Although it is generally believed that the explorer was born in Italy in 1451, some argue that he was actually born in Spain in Galicia, Catalonia, Valencia, Mallorca, or Guadalajara while others claim that he was in fact Portuguese.
a team of restorers, archaeologists and forensic anthropologists working at the Church of San Martin de Sobran in the Galician city of Vilagarcia de Arosa unearthed the tomb of Johan Mariño de Sotomayor, a nobleman and archdeacon who, according to Columbus’ Galician camp, may have been navigator’s cousin.
DNA will be extracted from seven bone fragments recovered from the tomb and then matched with samples taken from the remains of Columbus, as well as his brother and son.
The researchers also collected bone samples from another church in the area where other possible relatives of the researcher are believed to have been buried.
The Galician Columbus Association, which supports the theory that Columbus came from the region around the mouth of the Pontevedra River, points out that the surname Colón (Spanish for Columbus) is well documented in the area.
It has also been suggested that Columbus could be the Galician knight Pedro Alvarez de Sotomayor, also known by the nickname Pedro Madruga (Peter the Early Bird).
“It looks like we are getting close to getting the DNA of the sotomayor,” said association president Eduardo Esteban Meruendano.
Columbus died in the Spanish city of Valladolid in Spain in 1506 but wanted to be buried on the island of Hispaniola, which today is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
His remains were moved there in 1542, transported to Cuba in 1795, and then taken to Seville in 1898 when Spain lost Cuba after the Spanish–American War.
Although samples were collected from the remains of Columbus between 2004 and 2005, the researchers had to wait 16 years until the technology needed for proper analysis was developed to determine the true origin of the researcher.
“From our side there is no doubt [of its Italian origin], but we can provide objective data that can… close a number of existing theories,” said José Antonio Lorente, lead DNA researcher at the University of Granada.
Contact us: [email protected]