Unsolved Mysteries: The Death of Caravaggio

Caravaggio, Italian artist, portrait
PORTO ERCOLE, ITALY — What killed Italian Baroque master Caravaggio? Nobody knows for sure, but new DNA research may soon solve this real life unsolved mystery. 

Popular theories speculated that Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) was assassinated for religious reasons or collapsed from malaria on a deserted Tuscan beach. But in 2001, an Italian researcher found the artist's death certificate indicating that he actually died in a hospital. Working with the latter theory, a team of Italian anthropologists hopes to determine the true cause of death - if they can locate the painter's remains.

Assuming Caravaggio died in the hospital, his body was most likely buried in the San Sebastiano cemetery. In 1956, the San Sebastiano bodies were moved to a nearby town of Porto Ercole, where scientists will have to exhume the remains of up to 40 people to find Caravaggio. Since the artist died childless, "We will check the DNA extracted from the bones and teeth of possible matches against that of the painter's male descendents," explained Professor Giorgio Gruppioni, who will head the excavation team.

Caravaggio will be the toast of Rome next year, as a major exhibition of his paintings is being organized to commemorate the 400th anniversary of his death.
Read More - DNA Tests Could Solve Mystery of Caravaggio Death | Reuters
[Image: Chalk portrait of Caravaggio by Ottavio Leoni (ca. 1621). Courtesy: Wikipedia.]


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