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Forensic Sci Int. 2007 Nov 15;173(1):36-40. Epub 2007 Feb 22.

Genetic analysis of the skeletal remains attributed to Francesco Petrarca.

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Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e Genetica, Laboratorio di Antropologia, Università di Firenze, via del Proconsolo 12, 50122 Firenze, Italy.


We report on the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis of the supposed remains of Francesco Petrarca exhumed in November 2003, from the S. Maria Assunta church, in Arquà Padua (Italy) where he died in 1374. The optimal preservation of the remains allowed the retrieval of sufficient mtDNA for genetic analysis. DNA was extracted from a rib and a tooth and mtDNA sequences were determined in multiple clones using the strictest criteria currently available for validation of ancient DNA sequences, including independent replication. MtDNA sequences from the tooth and rib were not identical, suggesting that they belonged to different individuals. Indeed, molecular gender determination showed that the postcranial remains belonged to a male while the skull belonged to a female. Historical records indicated that the remains were violated in 1630, possibly by thieves. These results are consistent with morphological investigations and confirm the importance of integrating molecular and morphological approaches in investigating historical remains.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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