DNA study underway to prove Columbus's heritage

Where did Columbus come from? DNA study underway to find out

History of Italy News

Spanish researchers look to settle the argument once and for all as to the origins of Christopher Columbus. Over the past decades, various theories proposed the explorer came from Portugal or Spain rather than Italy.

The lead scientist of the DNA study at the University of Granada, Jose Antonio Lorente, told a news conference, “There is no doubt on our part (about his Italian origin), but we can provide objective data that can … close a series of existing theories.”

Scholars believe Columbus hails from Genova

The university held a meeting with those holding alternative theories about Columbus’s birthplace. The alternatives include Spain’s Valencia, Espinosa de Henares, Galicia and Mallorca, Portugal’s Alentejo region and others.

“I hope (with this research) we will come to the conclusion that unites us in our common objective, which is to demonstrate that Columbus was a Spanish nobleman and not a Genoese sailor,” said Alfonso Sanz, an amateur history researcher and author. His theory is Columbus originates from Espinosa de Henares in central Spain.

DNA research

October should see the results of the final stage of the DNA research published. Scientists are using tiny samples of what they believe are the remains of Columbus, his son Fernando and his brother Diego. Laboratories in Europe and the Americas will analyse them independently.

The first DNA samples were collected in 2004-05. However, due to technological challenges the samples were kept until such time as sufficient data could be extracted from them.

“Our team agreed on an ethical approach … wait for a technological development that has now happened,” said Lorente.

Columbus’s burials

Columbus died in Valladolid in Spain in 1506. However, he wished to have his remains buried on the island of Hispaniola – today the island is shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti. His remains were taken there in 1542, moved to Cuba in 1795 and then returned to Spain (Seville) in 1898.

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