The quest to identify Leonardo da Vinci's model for the Mona Lisa has found what is thought to be her crypt under a convent in Florence, Italy.
It was discovered after a foot of modern concrete was removed to unearth ancient bricks,
Now scientists are to conduct DNA tests on the bones and compare them to the remains of Gherardini's children who are buried in a nearby church.
Archeologists using geo-radar scanners still hope to find enough of the model's skull in the tomb at Sant'Orsola convent to be able to reconstruct what she really looked like and finally solve the riddle of the Mona Lisa's smile.
Cultural Heritage Committee president Silvano Vinceti said: "This is a very exciting discovery but there is much work still to do," according to
Present at the dig was Natalia Gucciardini Strozzi, the Italian princess ancestor of Gherardini.
Initially she had opposed the dig saying she should be allowed to "rest in peace" but now she is giving it her backing after meeting Professor Vinceti and his team.
"At first the thought of the dig horrified me but now I am fascinated, I find it interesting to think that this is the final resting place of one of my ancestors," she said.
Lisa Gheradini, who died in 1542, was the wife of a rich silk merchant named Francesco del Giocondo. In Italy the Mona Lisa is known as "La Gioconda",
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