400 Years After Death, Cervantes’s Body Is Found

400 Years After Death, Cervantes’s Body Is Found400 Years After Death, Cervantes’s Body Is Found

Archaeologists and anthropologists say they have positively identified fragments from the body of literary giant who died in 1616 in Madrid.

The remains of literary giant Miguel de Cervantes were found nearly four centuries after his death, a team of Spanish researchers has said.

“He’s there,” historian Fernando de Prado told the Guardian on Mid-March, referencing fragmented bones found in the floor of the crypt. “We know that some of these bones belong to Cervantes.”

But experts admitted that they could not pinpoint individual remains belonging to the author of Don Quixote as the state of the bones excavated from beneath the floor of the convent’s crypt was extremely poor, according to the Guardian.

The reason for the extreme deterioration of what appear to be Cervantes’ remains lies in the complex history of Madrid’s Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in the years following the writer’s death in April 1616 (the day before William Shakespeare died).

The high-profile search for the remains of one of western literature’s most famous figures began last April, with a team of nearly 30 people peering under the soil of Madrid’s ‘Convento de las Monjas Trinitarias Descalzas’ with infrared cameras, 3D scanners and ground-penetrating radar.

A Spanish historian, Francisco José Marin, said he had established beyond doubt that Cervantes, his wife Catalina de Salazar and 15 others had been buried between 1612 and 1630 in the small church of San Ildefonso.

That building would then become engulfed by the construction and enlargement of the convent over the next century, with the remains of the 17 transferred to the crypt of a new church within the complex at some time between 1698 and 1730.

Born near Madrid in 1547, Cervantes had requested to be buried in the modest redbrick convent after the religious order helped secure his release from pirates. When he died in 1616 – just a year after publishing the second part of Don Quixote: The Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha – records show his wish was granted. But the exact location of his burial place was lost after the convent was rebuilt in the late 17th century.

During their search, researchers identified 33 alcoves where the bones could have been stored. Their quest began to look less quixotic earlier this year when part of a casket bearing the author’s initials was found in the convent’s crypt.