Researchers to Identify Mona Lisa’s Identity

October 14, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. crypt [kript] (n.) – an underground room or vault beneath a surface that is usually used for church and burial purposes
Example: The researchers opened the crypt to gather some human bones for evidence.

2. remains [ri-MEINZ] (n.) –  a person’s body after death
Example: Lisa told her relatives to cremate her remains after she dies.

3. commission [kuh-MISH-uh n] (v.) – to order or authorize the production of something
Example: He was commissioned to do a series of drawings.

4. fragment [FRAG-muh nt] (n.) – a small part separated from a whole
Example: The diggers have recovered fragments of human bones in the church.

5. distinguished [dih-STING-gwisht] (adj.) – very successful, dignified, famous
Example: The distinguished painter will be the guest of honor in the opening of the new museum.


Read the text below.
Researchers announced the opening of a family tomb in Florence, Italy in the hopes of solving one of the art world's most pressing mysteries, Mona Lisa’s identity.

Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo is the woman thought to be the model of da Vinci’s [dah VEEN-chee] Mona Lisa portrait. Most people believe that Lisa’s husband commissioned the portrait to the distinguished painter Leonardo da Vinci to celebrate the birth of their second son in 1502 or the purchase of their home in 1503.

Previously, the team of researchers has recovered some bones from an Ursuline convent in Florence, which is thought to be the resting place of Lisa Gherardini. Today, Silvano Vinceti and other researchers will examine the bones found in the convent and the remains of Lisa’s family in the Martyrs' Crypt in Florence.

Currently, the team is using the carbon-14 test with the remains from the Ursuline convent to identify which ones are from the 1500s. After the testing, the researchers will conduct a DNA test to confirm which of the skeletons from the 1500s is related to the remains of Lisa’s son.

Once the relationship between the remains has been established, Vinceti plans to reconstruct the fragments of Lisa’s skull to verify if the bone structure is similar with that of the girl in da Vinci’s painting.

However, bioarcheologist Kristina Killgrove said that the results may not exactly be relevant to scholars today. Nonetheless, the discovery can bring profit to the country because of the tourist attraction. The painting actually draws millions of visitors to the Louvre [LOO-vruh] Museum in Paris every year.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, why are many people interested in the identity of the woman behind the Mona Lisa painting?
·         If you were to decide, would you be willing to do an extensive research just to know Mona Lisa’s identity? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Do you think studying an art’s history and origin is worth all the expenses? Why or why not?
·         In your opinion, what other things can a work of art give to people? Please explain your answer.


October 14, 2013