Closer to knowing the origin of Christopher Columbus

The multidisciplinary team of professionals involved in the study of the DNA of the skeletal remains attributed to Christopher Columbus

The multidisciplinary team of professionals involved in the study of the DNA of the skeletal remains attributed to Christopher Columbus

Scientific research on origin of Christopher Columbus, paralyzed 16 years ago waiting for a technological advance already available, faces its final stretch with the study of the DNA of the skeletal remains attributed to the discoverer and two of his relatives, which could be ready by October 12.

This was announced this Wednesday at a press conference by José Antonio Lorente, professor of Forensic Medicine at the University of Granada and director of the multidisciplinary team that, with the help of five genetic identification laboratories in Europe and America, will try to shed light on the origin of the navigator, around which several theories circulate, although the most widespread and internationally accepted is that it was from Genoa (Italy).

It will be in two or three weeks when the DNA analysis of the bone remains of Christopher Columbus, his son Hernando and his brother Diego will begin, with the claim, explains Lorente, that in about eight weeks the first results, which will be generated progressively until present the conclusions, if possible, on October 12, Columbus Day. All of this will be recorded in a documentary film and a miniseries co-produced by TVE and Story Producciones.

This research, initially promoted by historian Marcial Castro, began in 2002; the following year the remains of the discoverer and his relatives were exhumed from the cathedral of Seville and it was not until 2005 when the extraction of the first batch of analysis was concluded, at which time the researchers decided to paralyze the study because the technology with the What was counted then was not "efficient" enough. "We were spending many grams of bone to get very little information", has detailed Lorente.

Therefore, they came to the conclusion that it was best to preserve the pieces while waiting for a new generation technological advance that now, sixteen years later, has already occurred, which will allow a "drastic" improvement both in the extraction of the Bone DNA (higher quantity and quality) as in subsequent analysis. The material available for analysis is the following: four pieces of Christopher Columbus bones the size of an almond; another seven - one of them a tooth - from his son Hernando, and finally twelve bone fragments from his brother Diego.

The previous genetic studies carried out between 2004 and 2005 on the relationship of the bones of these three people preserved in the cathedral of Seville gave "positive results." "That does not mean a totally conclusive result. The data pointed to a father-son and brother-brother relationship (...) From there we have to increase the information generated so that these positive results become definitive conclusions," he clarifies.

But the final objective of this study is to confirm the origins of Columbus: "It is widely accepted that he is from Italy, we do not doubt it, but we can throw objective data that can be interpreted by historians to reach one conclusion or another," he has advanced Lorente, who has referred to the theories defended by other Colombian scholars that point to a Galician, Portuguese, Valencian, Basque or Majorcan origin, among others. And DNA could provide information to rule out or support one or another theory, the project director has reported.

So that the final conclusion is as reliable and corroborated as possible, in the process five laboratories will participate, two of which - one from Florence and the other from the United States - will work independently and in isolation. Two other laboratories, one in Rome and one in Mexico, will also support the study, while the team will also have timely contact with a fifth center specialized in genetic identification, so that when all have completed their work they will collate the data obtained by each one. from them.

Lorente admits that there are "a priori limitations": "not sure we can get DNA from all bones in sufficient quality and quantity to be able to reach a conclusion "." What we are not going to do is force the circumstances to prevent this from leading us to a wrong conclusion and some time later someone can say that what was done in Granada was wrong done ", has assured the director of this scientific team, who already considers the study" historical "whatever the final result.

The presentation was attended by the director of Story Producciones, Regis Francisco López, who has indicated that they will witness the entire process and transmit, with the greatest reliability and objectivity possible, this investigation. In the same vein, Andrés Luque, executive producer of the TVE Culture channel, has spoken, who has underlined the interest, growing among public opinion, in science. For the rector of the University of Granada, Pilar Aranda, the method used to carry out this study, whose estimated budget is 30,000 euros, highlights "the rigor that all interdisciplinary research must govern."


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