Pages

October 18, 2008

The DNA of Christopher Columbus

Scientists to use DNA tests to trace Colombus lineage

Spanish scientists are to test the DNA of hundreds of Catalans with the surname Colom in order to prove that Christopher Columbus, far from the Italian gentleman he has long been believed to be, was in fact
a swashbuckling pirate born in Catalonia. The experiment, in determining whether any of the participants are related to the pioneering explorer, is designed to clarify the disputed origins of the man - thought possibly to have been Catalan - who made landfall in America in 1492. While historians have mostly reckoned Columbus was an Italian born in 1451 in Genoa, a persuasive counter-lobby argues that the mariner who pioneered the Spanish conquista was in reality the Catalan Cristofol Colom, who airbrushed his past to conceal activities as a pirate and conspirator against the king.

Some 120 Catalans are to donate samples
of their saliva next week to a team of geneticists headed by Jose Antonio Lorente Acosta, head of the Laboratory of Genetic Identification at Granada University. Similar tests on another 180 sharing the name Colom will follow in Mallorca and Valencia. Investigators will compare the results with the DNA from Columbus' illegitimate son Hernando, whose remains lie in Seville Cathedral.

"We are not looking for descendants of Columbus, but a common ancestor who may be the link between the Admiral and today's Coloms. If we find a Y chromosome (the only one that males inherit by the paternal line) we could say they were related," a spokesman for Mr Acosta said this week. The first historian to suggest that Columbus was Catalan was a Peruvian, Luis Ulloa Cisneros, who published his theory in Paris in 1927.


Linguists favour the idea, saying that Columbus used Catalan - or something like it - rather than Italian or Castilian Spanish in his writings, and gave many of his discoveries in the New World Catalan names. One historian reckons most of the places in the Caribbean and Central America named by Colombus can be linked directly to the Balearic island of Ibiza.

Historians have speculated that Columbus may have been a Catalan nobleman who joined a failed uprising against King Joan II of Aragon, father of King Ferdinand, and took orders from the French in various acts of piracy, including the sinking of Portuguese galleons.

Finding he'd backed the losing side, Columbus expunged his former identity and hispanicised his name to avoid reprisals and maintain the support of the new monarch for his planned voyage to America, this argument runs.

Ferdinand and his wife Queen Isabella united Spain and sponsored Columbus' voyages, and on the strength of his discoveries founded the richest maritime empire the world had ev
er seen. Some versions suggest Columbus was the illegitimate son of Prince Carlos of Viana, a (itals)mallorquin nobleman related to Ferdinand and Isabella.


They suggest that Columbus was aware of his royal connections, which were never acknowledged, addressing his patrons with the unusually familiar "my natural lords". Columbus had a great knowledge of the work of the prestigious Mallorca cartographical school. Other theories include that of the historian Salvador de Madariaga who argued that Columbus was from a Catalan family who fled to Genoa to escape persecution for being Jewish.

And Enrique Bayerri asserts that Columbus was born in a small island in Catalunya's Ebro delta, that was called Genoa. The island later silted up, to form part of the river's flood plain. Dr Lorente Acosta, who confesses he favours the Catalan thesis, has spent years trying to establish by DNA testing exactly where the great Admiral's bones lie: whether they are beneath the cathedral crypt in the Dominican Republic, or in a small lead box uncovered in 2003 in a Sevillian ceramics factory, formerly a Carthusian monastery.

Whoever he was, and wherever he is, we do know that Christopher Columbus died on 20 May, 1606, in the Castillian capital of Valladolid, north of Madrid. The city will host big quincentenary celebrations in May, by which time investigators in Catalonia hope to be able to confirm, or not, the nationality of Europe's pioneering mariner.

October 14, 2008

The Kings of Aragon

Following the tradition of the historical geneticists, we show another more of the DNAs of famous people. This is an awasome project of my friend and my mentor Dra. Begoña Martínez-Jarreta from of the University of Zaragoza in Spain. This research project has been funded from the Aragon's Government and the Genetic Laboratory of the University of Zaragoza. It is leading by Dra. Begoña and the funds reach 650,000 euros. The financing arise from the General Diputy from Aragón and Ibercaja.
Exhumed the Real remains of San Pedro el Viejo for study.
Offal has been transferred to the Faculty of Medicine of Zaragoza. The remains of King Alfonso I the Battler and Ramiro II the Monk have been exhumed for an anthropometric study and practice program. In 1985 and were removed from their graves, in the chapel of St. Bartholomew's Church of San Pedro el Viejo, for study, but the modern techniques of forensic investigation (including DNA tests) will enable more and better information about royal offal.
The task will fall upon the Department of Pathology, and Forensic Medicine and Toxicology at the University of Zaragoza. Three boxes containing methyl human skeletons were exposed yesterday at the altar of the chapel, after its removal from the tombs of Ramiro Alfonso II and I. Correspond to the two kings and several people (in the third box) have not been identified. This last case is buried in the sarcophagus of Battler. In principle, which contains the remains would not be the subject of this study. Before the relocation of the skeletons of the kings of Zaragoza, the legal process was completed with the lifting of notarial exhumation. The archaeologist and anthropologist José Ignacio Lorenzo participated in the removal of the remains conducted 23 years ago and was present yesterday. A first observation of the remains allowed draw several conclusions.

For example, as explained to reporters, the silicone seal has not stood the test of time and the effect of moisture, so that the boxes did not appear completely sealed yesterday. It will be a need for a tougher when inhuman wreckage warned. In 1985, he explained, the study confirmed the data of history. For example, certified that the structure of Ramiro the Monk corresponded with a man who did not trade weapons, which coincides with his dedication clerical, who suffered from osteoarthritis in the spine and feet and had a certain deviation in itself. He agreed, he said, to be called The Curvo, as it is known in his day. The remains of his brother Alfonso corresponded to a robust man who had developed física. Lorenzo activity indicated that the study will confirm the relationship and do the same with other skeletons preserved in real Aragon. In fact, the exhumation was part of an overall project, with the remains of the Benedictines of Jaca and San Juan de la Peña, although these are held in Zaragoza.
New Data. The evidence points to determine possible diseases suffered (including the cause of death), age of death and nutritional problems. He indicated that the remains of the battle will not be the face and keeps the bones had plenty of moisture. This was visible yesterday with a darkening of bone. The CEO of Heritage, Vincent James, said that in view of the first lessons learned yesterday, the proposed restoration of the chapel, as drafted and tendering will be reformed to protect more remains. It indicated that there will be a rearrangement of their exposure and an upgrading of the chapel.
The remains of monk King had been extracted and saved before his burial in the parish. In the afternoon they opened the sarcophagus of Alfonso I. The exhumation is required prior archaeological work, coordinated by Bethlehem Gimeno. It has proved particularly difficult task in the sarcophagus of Ramiro II, for his delicate condition. In exhumation were representatives of the Church oscense, the Association of Workers of San Pedro or the teacher Lacarra Carmen, daughter of Jose Maria Lacarra, who was skilled in the figure of Ramiro the Monk.