Was Colombus really a Catalan pirate? DNA test will decide
Friday 13 January 2006
Spanish scientists are to test the DNA of hundreds of Catalans with the surname Colom to prove that Christopher Columbus, far from the Italian gentleman he has long been believed to be, was in fact a pirate born in Catalonia.
The experiment, in determining whether any of the participants are related to the explorer, is designed to clarify the disputed origins of the man who made landfall in America in 1492. While historians have mostly reckoned he was born in Genoa in 1451, a counter-lobby argues that he was the Catalan Cristofol Colom, who airbrushed his past to conceal activities as a pirate and conspirator against the king.
Some 120 Catalans are to donate samples of saliva next week to a team of geneticists headed by Jose Antonio Lorente Acosta, head of the Laboratory of Genetic Identification at Granada University. Similar tests on another 180 sharing the name Colom will follow in Mallorca and Valencia. Investigators will compare the results with DNA from Columbus' illegitimate son Hernando, whose remains lie in Seville cathedral.
"We are not looking for descendants of Columbus, but a common ancestor who may be the link between the Admiral and today's Coloms. If we find a Y chromosome (the only one that males inherit by the paternal line) we could say they were related," a spokesman for Mr Acosta said this week.
The first historian to suggest Columbus was Catalan was a Peruvian, Luis Ulloa Cisneros, who published his theory in Paris in 1927. Linguists favour the idea, saying that Columbus used Catalan - or something like it - rather than Italian or Castilian Spanish in his writings, and gave many of his discoveries in the New World Catalan names. One historian reckons most of the places named by Colombus can be linked directly to the Balearic island of Ibiza.
Historians speculate that Columbus may have been a Catalan noble who joined a failed uprising against King Joan II of Aragon, father of King Ferdinand, and took orders from the French in acts of piracy, including the sinking of Portuguese galleons. Finding he had backed the losing side, Columbus expunged his former identity and hispanicised his name to avoid reprisals and keep support for his planned voyage.
Valladolid, north of Madrid, will host quincentenary commemorations of the explorer's death in May, by which time investigators in Catalonia hope to be able to confirm his nationality.
Top Un: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un is Maverick as he poses with all-female pilot crew of the Anti-Air Force Unit
Belle Knox: How the porn star student from Duke University became bigger than Justin Bieber
Top 10 most expensive cities in the world: Singapore named costliest place to live – but what about London?
Oscar Pistorius trial: Athlete 'cheated on me' with Reeva Steenkamp, former girlfriend Samantha Taylor tells Pretoria court
Channel 4 announces two-hour TV show to be broadcast 'Live from Space' later this month
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
- 2 South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
- 3 Italian pensioner hires an escort who turns out to be his son's girlfriend
- 4 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 5 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role to marry Natasha Richardson
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...