Spain to search for author Miguel de Cervantes' remains

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Miguel de Cervantes' book Don Quixote is regarded as the first modern novel

Forensic scientists in Spain have announced plans to search a Madrid convent for the body of the 17th Century author, Miguel de Cervantes.

Ground-penetrating radar will be used to try to locate the remains of the celebrated author of Don Quixote.

Experts say the work of scanning, exhuming and analysing any findings is expected to take several months.

Cervantes, who died in poverty in 1616, is considered one of Spain's most important literary figures.

He has been dubbed the father of the modern novel for writing The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, which is reputed to be one of the most widely read and translated books on the planet.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
A plaque commemorating Cervantes on the Convent of Trinitarians

Scientists say they will start searching for the famous author in the Convent of Trinitarians, Madrid, on Monday.

He was recorded as having died on 22 April 1616 and was said to have been buried a day later in the convent's church.

The precise location of his burial, however, is not known.

Forensic scientists say the ground and walls of the oldest part of the convent would be the focus of the search, using ground-penetrating equipment to map objects under the earth.

"The radar cannot tell you whether it is the body of the writer, but it can indicate the place of burial," the expert leading the search, Luis Avial, told reporters on Friday.

"The geo-radar can tell us that location... then comes the delicate work," he added, referring to the exhumation and identification process.

The estimated cost of the operation is 100,000 euros ($138,000; £82,352).