The human remains found in a grave where Michel de Montaigne is believed to have been buried may belong to the 16th-century French philosopher, but more work is needed to solve the mystery, experts said on Friday.The Aquitaine museum, in the south-west of the city of Bordeaux, in November launched work to examine the remains of the tomb in a basement of the museum, which occupies the premises of a convent where Montaigne , famous for its high but very readable Testing, was buried.
The bones found are those of a “single individual. He’s an adult and he’s probably a man, ”Hélène Reveillas, archaeo-anthropologist from the Bordeaux region told the press.
“We have elements that do not go against the idea that it is from Montaigne. But neither do we have anything that allows us to say so with certainty, ”she added.
“The mystery remains,” she said.
Montaigne was one of the city’s most famous sons and served as its mayor from 1581 to 1585. Speculation that his remains were already housed in a museum in Bordeaux had caused a stir last year.
The opening of the tomb last year revealed a wooden coffin with the word “Montaigne” written in large brown letters.
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The lead coffin was opened this week, revealing “a well-preserved skeleton” and a skull “with almost all of its teeth” as well as the remains of tissue, pollen and insects, according to the archaeologist.
Laboratory research, in particular using carbon-14 dating, will now be carried out by around twenty scientists.
They will especially be on the lookout for evidence of kidney stones that the writer was known to have suffered.
Reveillas added: “We know that his heart was removed after his death” at the request of his widow, noting that “the operation leaves its traces”.
Other techniques to use in tracking include “facial reconstruction” and genealogical research on possible descendants, Reveillas said.
The results are expected next year.
There has long been confusion over the location of de Montaigne’s remains, after the body was moved between numerous sites after his death in 1592 at the age of 59.
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