Mar 172015

In this Jan. 24, 2015 file photo, a team of archaeologists and anthropologists take notes after starting the excavation work after identifying three unrecorded and unidentified graves in the chapel’s crypt of the closed order Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid’s historic Barrio de las Letras, or Literary Quarter, Spain. AP/Daniel Ochoa de Olza, File

MADRID — Experts believe bone remains found in a Madrid convent include those of Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes but are unable to identify them beyond doubt, they said Tuesday.

Releasing the latest details of the near year-long search, forensic anthropologist Francisco Etxeberria said investigators’ work led them to believe that Cervantes’ bones are among the remains of 15 bodies found in the crypt of the Barefoot Trinitarians, but they were unable to isolate them or prove definitively which belonged to the author of the Spanish language’s most revered work, “Don Quixote.”

Etxeberria said scientists would try to extract DNA profiles for the bones found, but were not sure if this would be possible. Cervantes had no known descendants.

Cervantes is known to have been buried in the convent in 1616 but construction work involving the convent in the following years made it difficult to ascertain exactly where his bones lay.

Authorities had hoped that the search, which cost some 160,000 euros ($168,000) and attracted much media attention, would allow them to do the great author justice by giving him a properly signposted burial site.

Investigators believed they had solid clues to work with in the probe. Cervantes died at age 69 and wrote that he only had six teeth in the end.

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He also had battle wounds. In 1571, the writer was wounded in the Battle of Lepanto, which pitted Ottoman Turkish forces against the Holy League, led by Spain. Aboard the ship La Marquesa, Cervantes was hit by three musket shots, two in the chest and one in his hand.

In January, archeologists said that they found fragments of a casket bearing the initials “M.C.” and bones, but did not confirm if it belonged to Cervantes.

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