DNA testing to determine origins of Columbus

18th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

BARCELONA, Spain, Jan 17, 2006 (AFP) - An international investigation is making progress in seeking to end centuries of arguments over the true origins of Christopher Columbus, the head of the project said Tuesday.

BARCELONA, Spain, Jan 17, 2006 (AFP) - An international investigation is making progress in seeking to end centuries of arguments over the true origins of Christopher Columbus, the head of the project said Tuesday.

Jose Antonio Lorente said the genetic identification laboratory at the University of Granada in southern Spain had come together in November with experts from France, Italy and Spain working on DNA material from hundreds of volunteers who believe they are descendants of the great explorer.

Testing began in Barcelona and has since been undertaken in Valencia further south on the Mediterranean coast, the Balearic Islands, the Catalan region of southern France and in Genoa, Italy.

Most historians believe the "discoverer of the Americas" in 1492 was of Genoese origin.

"We are trying to piece together a genetic map of the Columbus family in several areas of the Mediterranean where various theories have it Christopher Columbus was born," Lorente explained.

"It is not about showing that Columbus was Catalan, Spanish or whatever. Certain historians believe he was not Genoese, but the majority say he was," he added.

More than 120 people with the family name Colom -- the Catalan derivative -- gave a saliva sample while in the French city of Perpignan, just over the border, 18 people with similar names such as Colomb or Coulom also did the test.

Lorente hopes to publish results of the survey in May, which will mark the 500th anniversary of Columbus's death in the central northern Spanish city of Valladolid on May 20, 1606.

His laboratory is seeking to determine the variety and DNA profile of the Y chromosome (transmitted in identical fashion from fathers to male offspring) of people living in a single area who could be descended from Columbus.

The samples will be compared with those of the explorer's elder son, Hernando, whose remains lie in Seville Cathedral.

Lorente's team has already carried out tests on the badly deteriorated remains of a skeleton at the cathedral in the hope of obtaining a formal identification it could be of Columbus.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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