Spanish investigators announced Tuesday that they believe they’ve found the remains of author Miguel de Cervantes.
Considered a pillar of Spanish literature, and one of the world’s most important writers, Cervantes published Don Quixote in two parts, in 1605 and 1615. The novel narrates the adventures of a delusional man who has read so many stories about chivalry, he decides to become a knight himself. Don Quixote’s idealistic and impractical ventures gave birth to the adjective “quixotic.”
Cervantes had asked to be buried in a convent in Madrid, where he died in 1616. Investigators had been digging there for the last decade, searching for his remains.
The Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians was rebuilt in the late 17th century and his remains were lost.
Searchers believe they have found his remains under the crypt of the convent’s church, at a depth of about 50 inches, in a box that contained the bones of 10 adults and five children.
Investigators warn that it might be impossible to verify that the remains belong to Cervantes, and that there is no DNA proof yet, although tests are being conducted. However, Reuters reports, they believe it is him. “Everything coincides to lead us to believe that Cervantes is there,” a forensics expert, Francisco Etxeberria, said at a news conference in Madrid.
One possible clue indicating that the remains belong to Miguel de Cervantes: the letters M C marked on the coffin.
The find could be a huge tourist boost for Madrid. Mayor Ana Botella says authorities are looking into opening the site for visitors.
Don Quixote is referred to by many as the first modern novel. But Cervantes himself missed out on literary recognition during his difficult life. He was a soldier, and was at one point captured by Moorish pirates, who held him captive for five years. The church where he was buried helped pay the ransom for his release.