THE hypothesis that Christopher Columbus was Majorcan is still valid, according to Alfonso Ballesteros, chairman of the Royal Academy of Medicine of the Balearics, who will be the moderator at the symposium on The Columbus Enigmas.
The symposium, which has been organised by the Academy and the Club Ultima Hora, will be held at the Banca March in Calle Nuredunna, Palma, at 6pm on October 21.
But when asked if the Academy supports the hypothesis, Ballesteros said The Royal Academy is organising the event and has brought together leading experts on the matter, but it does not come out in favour of any particular theory.
He went on to say it is a scientific symposium where several experts will explain the chief lines of their investigations. However, on a personal level, I will say that the thesis sustained by Gabriel Verd, which points to the Majorcan origin of the discoverer of America, seems to me to be acquiring great strength and importance.
He pointed out that it is attracting attention in the media and has been covered by Discovery Channel.
Ballesteros explained that the symposium stemmed from a conversation with Miguel Botella, anthropology professor at Granada University, during a congress in Minorca last October.
Columbus's enigmas are mainly centred around his birth and his burial place.
Regarding the controversy over where he is buried, Ballesteros said, the most likely explanation is that his bones are divided between the Cathedral in Seville and the Columbus Lighthouse in the Dominican Republic.
Columbus was buried in Valladolid, but his remains were moved several times and it seems logical that they should have been divided into two small boxes, to prevent complete loss in the case of a shipwreck.
As to his origin, historian Gabriel Verd will explain his thesis during the symposium: The Prince of Viana, son of Juan II of Aragon andQueen Blanca of Navarre, was in Majorca from August 1459 to March 1460. He maintained relations with a Majorcan woman called Margarita, with whom he had a son: Christopher Columbus. A document has been found in the Archive of the Kingdom of Aragon in which it recognises that he left a woman of that name in Majorca pregnant.
Ballesteros then went on to comment on the DNA analyses which are being made on the remains of Columbus and relatives.
He said that they were a key piece to prove Verd's hypothesis. The anthropological studies of the DNA by Dr Botella and J. Antonio Lorente, professor of forensic medicine at Granada, are having a great repercussion, he said, adding that the system used is the same as that for a paternity suit.
Historian Mariona Ibars, a specialist on the life of the Prince of Viana, will be one of the speakers and Ballesteros explained that she, together with Professor Botella, is responsible for research at the monastery in Poblet where the Prince is buried.
Lorente, who was a professor at the FBI school will speak on research carried out to date on bone remains of the Columbus family and the Prince of Viana. Research up to now has not ruled out the Majorcan hypothesis, which is still valid, Ballesteros said. However the bones in Seville and Poblet have deteriorated and work is not yet completed, he added.