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15749: (Chamberlain) Scientists raid tombs to solve Columbus mystery (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

     SEVILLE, Spain, June 2 (Reuters) - Spanish scientists delved into a
bronze tomb thought to contain the remains of Christopher Columbus on
Monday, hoping to solve the mystery of where the explorer's remains really
     The Dominican Republic and Spain both claim to have the remains of the
first European to discover America and last year a Spanish team proposed to
resolve the dispute by submitting both sets to DNA tests along with the
remains of Columbus's son.
     In September the scientists opened the tomb of Columbus's younger
brother Diego, which would provide further proof.
     Scientists have until Friday to extract specimens for their tests,
when they will return the Spanish remains to their resting place in Seville
     "(We'll take) pieces the size of a chick pea," Jose Antonio Lorente
Acosta, a forensic scientist at Granada University's Legal Medicine
department, told Reuters.
     Lorente, who usually works on DNA testing for criminal investigations
or paternity tests, said the process would take at least six months. The
frailty of the remains meant the process would be even more painstaking
than usual.
     The team, which includes a historian and a biologist, also hopes to
establish whether Columbus hailed from the Italian port of Genoa or the
Spanish Mediterranean island of Majorca.
     But the Dominican Republic is still debating whether to allow the
researchers to conduct DNA tests on the remains they claim to be
     Columbus, who died in the Spanish city of Valladolid in 1506,
requested that he be buried on the Caribbean island that is today shared by
the Dominican Republic and Haiti. His remains and those of his son were
duly taken there.
     The bones were later ordered to be moved at least twice because of
political upheavals -- first to Cuba in 1795 and then to Seville in 1898
when Cuba won independence from Spain.
     But some 12 years ago, workers at a cathedral in the Dominican
Republic's capital Santo Domingo discovered an urn inscribed with
Columbus's name. These remains are now buried at a monument dedicated to
the explorer in the city.