Staff reporter

AFTER five days of examinations, the suspected remains of Christopher Columbus were yesterday afternoon returned to their resting place in Seville cathedral as investigators took an important step closer to discovering exactly where the explorer came from, Majorca or from the Italian port of Genoa, providing, that is, that the bones in Seville are those of Columbus. The chest containing the supposed remains of Christopher Columbus was exhumed on Monday for DNA and other tests to firstly determine whether the bones are really those of the famed explorer ot that in fact he is buried in in a sprawling monument in the Dominican Republic's capital, Santo Domingo. Investigators then had five days to take DNA samples.
The possible final chapter in the history of Columbus began in the presence of two descendants of Columbus Jaime and Anunicada Colon de Carvajal on Monday when researchers removed two boxes from an ornate tomb at the cathedral in Seville. One box is believed to hold the explorer's bones; the other is known to hold those of his son Hernando. Another box, thought to contain the bones of Colombus' brother Diego, was exhumed close to Seville. All three were taken across southern Spain, with a police escort, to the University of Granada. “This was possibly the first time the three ever traveled together,” joked Marcial Castro, the researcher who launched the project.
In Granada, experts conducted an array of tests including DNA analysis to find out if the two sets of remains in question are related to those of Hernando, whose identity is certain. Castro said he believes the true bones are in Santo Domingo but adds, “No historian in the world has conclusive proof of where Columbus is buried. That's what we're trying to find out.” Castro said the exhumation and tests have been tense. “We thought we might just find a pile of dust in the box,” he said. “But there were plenty of bones for the scientists to work off.” However, despite the bones have been returned to their resting place, the results of the tests will not be known for several months.
Researchers have asked to exhume the supposed remains in Santo Domingo as well, but Dominican authorities are waiting to see the outcome of the Spanish tests, Castro said. Columbus died and was buried in the Spanish city of Valladolid on May 20, 1506, although he had asked to be buried in the Americas.
Three years later, his remains were moved to a monastery on La Cartuja, next to Seville. In 1537, Maria de Rojas y Toledo, widow of another of Columbus' sons, Diego, sent the bones of her husband and his father to the cathedral in Santo Domingo for burial. There they lay until 1795, when Spain ceded the island to France but decided Columbus' remains should not fall into the hands of foreigners.
So a set of remains that the Spaniards believed were Columbus' were shipped to Havana and, when the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, over to Seville. However, in 1877, workers digging in the Santo Domingo cathedral unearthed a leaden box containing bones and bearing the inscription, “Illustrious and distinguished male, don Cristobal Colon” as Columbus is called in Spanish thus sparking the controversy.


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