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揭晓哥伦布身世之谜

2006-07-28 15:46

  Nearly 500 years after the death of Christopher Columbus, a team of genetic researchers are using DNA to solve two nagging mysteries: Where was the explorer really born? And where the devil are his bones?

  Debate about origins and final resting place of Columbus has raged for over a century, with historians questioning the traditional theory that he hails from Genoa, Italy. Some say he was a Spanish Jew, a Greek, a Basque or Portuguese.

  Even the location of his remains is the subject of controversy. The Dominican Republic and Spain both stake claims as the final resting place of Columbus, who died in May, 1506.

  The Spanish-led research team, which includes Italians, Americans and Germans, sampled DNA from the known remains from Columbus' brother and son, and then compared them to fragments attributed to Columbus in Seville.

  Although the official announcement is expected later this year, Italian researchers say they are confident based on the evidence gathered so far that Columbus' supposed remains in Seville are likely authentic.

  “We have already started all of the analyses on a molecular level and we have good indications that the remains in Seville are effectively those of Christopher,” said Olga Rickards, head of the team at Rome's Tor Vergata University laboratory.

  If confirmed, it could lay to rest a dispute dating back to 1877, when Dominican workers found a lead casket buried behind the altar in Santo Domingo's cathedral containing a collection of bone fragments the country says belong to Columbus.

  The bones should have left the island for Cuba in 1795 and then been sent along Spain a century later.

  But the casket was inscribed with the words “Illustrious and distinguished male, Don Cristobal Colon” - the Spanish rendering of Christopher Columbus.

  “Nobody knows (about the Dominican remains) …… because they haven't yet allowed DNA analysis,” Rickards told Reuters.

  Little is known about the early life of Columbus, the reputed son of a weaver in Genoa who would later change the world by accidentally stumbling upon the Americas in 1492.

  With so many different theories about his origin, the DNA researchers hope to settle the matter once and for all by obtaining genetic samples from Europeans with the name Columbus.

  In Italy, the researchers sent letters to modern-day “Colombo” men asking them to use cotton swabs to sample saliva from inside their mouths.

  “We sent out 250 letters …… and we have already received 16 positive responses,” Rickards told Reuters.

  The Spanish had sampled less than 150 people, she said.

  “If we're lucky, we might have a result by May, which is the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' death,” she said.

  Genoa's mayor, Giuseppe Pericu, joked to a newspaper that Columbus would wind up being “Genovese” —— one way or another. “If it turns out that Columbus wasn't Genovese, we'll make him an honorary citizen,” he said.

  生于何处在哪里安息——揭晓哥伦布身世之谜在伟大的探险家克里斯托夫-哥伦布逝世将近500年后,一支由多国科学家组成的研究小组正利用DNA鉴定技术,试图解决困扰人们多年的两个问题:哥伦布真正的出生地是哪里?哥伦布死后遗骨究竟埋在何处?

  哥伦布生于何处?

  据路透社3月10日报道,关于哥伦布从何而来又在何处安息的争论已经持续了一个多世纪。按照传统的说法,哥伦布出生于意大利的热那亚,但一些历史学家对此提出了质疑。有人认为哥伦布是西班牙犹太人,还有人认为他是希腊人、巴斯克人或者葡萄牙人。

  人们对哥伦布的早期生活知之甚少,较为普遍的说法是他是意大利热那亚一位纺织工人的儿子。但除此之外,社会上还流传着很多不同的说法。面对这样一个局面,一支由西班牙、意大利、美国和德国科学家组成的DNA研究小组希望通过从拥有“哥伦布”这个名字的欧洲人身上提取基因样本,来揭开事实真相。

  在意大利,研究人员已经对现在名叫“科伦坡”的男性发出了信函,要求他们使用棉签取得自己的唾液样本,以供研究人员化验。而西班牙也对将近150人进行了DNA取样。对此,这项研究的负责人奥尔加·里卡德表示,“如果我们运气好的话,今年5月份我们就能得到结果,那时正值哥伦布逝世500周年之际。”

  对此,意大利热那亚市长佩里库还开玩笑说,无论如何,哥伦布都会成为热那亚人。他说:“如果分析结果证明哥伦布并非热那亚人,那么我们会授予他荣誉市民的称号。”

  哥伦布何处安息?

  就在人们对哥伦布的出生地点众说纷纭的同时,他去世后尸骨埋于何处也成为人们争论的对象。多米尼加共和国和西班牙都宣称自己国家是哥伦布的安息之地。

  为了解决这一问题,研究人员从已知的哥伦布的兄弟和儿子的遗骨上提取了DNA样本,并将它们和从西班牙塞维利亚出土的被认为是哥伦布遗骨上提取的DNA进行了对比。

  报道说,尽管官方的研究报告预计要在今年晚些时候才能出来,但意大利科学家说,鉴于目前收集到的证据,他们认为哥伦布的遗骨被埋葬在西班牙塞维利亚这个说法很可能是真的。

  如果这一点得到了证实,那么从1877年开始的关于这个问题的争论也将被平息。当时,多米尼加的一名工人在圣多明各大教堂一个祭坛的后面发掘出了一个铅制的盒子,上面刻有哥伦布的名字,里面装有一些遗骨。多米尼加认为这才是真正的哥伦布遗体。

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