Forensic scientists dig up the royal dirt
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
This photo shows the skeleton of King Richard III. DNA researchers confirmed the skeleton matched a 17th generation descendent of the king. ABACAPRESS.COM photo
The identification of King Richard III’s skeleton is the latest coup by forensic scientists who use radiocarbon-dating, DNA analysis, 3D scanning and other hi-tech tools to unlock the secrets of the long-dead. Other famous cases include the following:
Oetzi the Iceman: In 1991, hikers in the Oetztal Alps in Italy’s Tyrol region found the mummified remains of a man that had been extraordinarily preserved by the ice, “Oetzi.” He was shot in the back with an arrow but lived for some time after his fatal wound, according to atomic microscope images of blood cells.
Louis XVI and Henri IV: In December 2012, scientists from Spain and France authenticated the remains of a rag said to have been dipped in the blood of France’s last absolute monarch, Louis XVI, after his beheading in January 1793.They linked DNA found in the sample, kept in an ornately-decorated vegetable gourd, to another gruesome artifact: a mummified head believed to belong to Louis’ 17th century predecessor Henri IV. The rare shared genetic signature gave firm evidence for authenticating both sets of remains.
Louis VII: Pathologist Philippe Charlier used genetic data in 2000 to determine that a mummified heart held in a glass urn came from the uncrowned son of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. The lad died in prison during the French Revolution. A doctor removed his heart and smuggled it out of the jail. In 2000, a DNA match was found between the heart and locks of hair from Marie-Antoinette, her two sisters and DNA samples from two of the sisters’ living relatives. In 2004 the heart was buried alongside the bodies of his parents.
Ramses III: Scientists said in December 2012 that an assassin had slit the throat of Egypt’s last great pharaoh at the climax of a bitter succession battle. Experts announced last year that computed tomography imaging of the mummy revealed the pharaoh’s windpipe and major arteries were slashed.
Napoleon: For years, maverick historians in France argued that Napoleon Bonaparte had been poisoned by his English captors during his final exile on Saint Helena. Scientists trawled over a doctor’s diagnosis of the patient and an autopsy conducted after the emperor died. The verdict in 2007 matched that of 1821; he died of stomach cancer brought on by an ulcer.