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Mona Lisa's skull found

The skull of the model for Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa may have been found in a convent burial ground in Italy, archaeologists have revealed.

A female-sized skull has been unearthed in a crypt under the floor of the St Ursula convent in Florence believed to contain the remains of† Lisa Gherardini Del Giocondo.

The merchant's wife is widely believed to have been the life model for da Vinci's best-known work and the most famous painting in the world.

Excavation officials say the skull was found five feet under the convent's original floor with other fragments of human ribs and vertebrae.

Now scientists will compare the DNA in the bones with the remains of the model's two children who were buried nearby.

Archeologist Silvano Vinceti - who is in charge of the dig - explained: "We don't know yet if the bones belong to one single skeleton or more than one. But this confirms our hypothesis that in St Ursula convent there are still human bones and we cannot exclude that among them there are bones belonging to Lisa Gherardini."

Once scientists have confirmed the skull as the model's, forensic artists will attempt to reconstruct her face to see how it compares to the version painted by da Vinci and finally solve the riddle of the Mona Lisa's smile.

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