Florence: Archaeologists in Italy's Florence city have uncovered a skeleton they believe could be the 500 year-old remains of the noblewoman who is believed to have posed for Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa masterpiece.
An excavation that started earlier this month of what was once the convent of Saint Orsola, where Lisa Gherardini - the wife of wealthy silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo - was buried following her death in July 1542 at 63 years.
A grave was unearthed that contained a skeleton of an adult woman with parts of the skull and pelvis, said Giorgio Gruppioni, an archaeology professor from the University of Bologna and coordinator of the excavation.
"The skull and pelvis have been crushed by the weight of the ground," he said. Other pieces of the skull and pelvis must first be recovered before the archaeologists can definitively determine the skeleton's sex, he said.
Once they locate the skull, the team will attempt to recreate a likeness of what the woman might have looked like and compare her to the world-famous portrait.
This may help unlock the centuries-old mystery surrounding Mona Lisa's identity.
Historians will compare the DNA with that of two of her children buried in Florence's Santissima Annunziata church to prove her identity.
Most modern historians believe that the lady with the famous enigmatic smile depicted in the Mona Lisa was del Giocondo, who became a nun after her husband's death.
Some experts, however, say Leonardo's final portrait may be a composite of many faces.
Da Vinci's masterpiece now hangs behind bulletproof glass at the Louvre museum in Paris.