DNA analysis supports the claim that a skeleton dug up from beneath a parking lot in the English city of Leicester represents the mortal remains of King Richard III, British experts declared on Monday.
"It's the academic conclusion of the University of Leicester that beyond reasonable doubt the individual exhumed at Greyfriars in September 2012 is indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England," Richard Buckley, the project's lead archaeologist, said during a news briefing in Leicester.
The project used 21st-century forensic science to solve a 500-year-old mystery surrounding one of William Shakespeare's best-known villains. Shakespeare's play, "Richard III," made the king out to be a scheming monster who killed children to get to the English throne. The bard gave Richard III dramatic lines that are still evoked today, ranging from "the winter of our discontent" to "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!"
Last year, a team led by the University of Leicester excavated a city parking lot and found a wealth of intriguing evidence -- including a skeleton with a battle-scarred skull and a spine that was curved due to scoliosis. There was no evidence of a coffin, a shroud or clothing that was buried with the body.
All those clues suggested that the skeleton could have been that of the historical Richard III, but to firm up the connection, scientists put the bones through genetic tests, radiocarbon dating and more detailed osteological analysis.
"Historical sources tell us that Richard's body was stripped," hacked and put on public display after the battle, Appleby noted.
Radiocarbon dating showed that "the individual could have died in 1485," Buckley said. Two tests yielded dates possibly ranging from 1455 to 1540.
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