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Wednesday, 20 September, 2000, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
'Giotto's remains found'
Professor Mallegni of Pisa and Palermo universities
Professor Mallegni with his reconstruction of Giotto's head
A skeleton found beneath Florence's Duomo 30 years ago has been identified as that of Giotto, the famed early Renaissance artist.

The face was reconstructed by Professor Francesco Mallegni, a palaeontologist at Pisa and Palermo universities.

The Basilica of St Francis of Assisi
The Basilica of St Francis of Assisi
Professor Mallegni maintains that the reconstruction bears a strong similarity to a face in a fresco in Padua which is believed to be a self-portrait of the artist.

Florence is currently commemorating the life and work of Giotto, one of its greatest artists, who died in 1337.

Giotto is believed to have painted the famous frescos at the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in Umbria.

Hard evidence

Studies carried out on the skeleton discovered under the Santa Maria del Fuore church, otherwise known as the Duomo, suggested that the person had spent long periods looking up, as a painter of frescos would have done.

The Duomo in Florence
Remains believed to be Giotto's were found under the Duomo in Florence
The skeleton also indicated that its owner had been deformed and very short. Giotto has been described as an unusually ugly man, who limped badly when he walked.

The teeth of the skeleton showed that the dead man had eaten remarkably well for the times, suggesting someone of Giotto's wealth.

Bone tests also identified high levels of manganese, iron, lead, aluminium and zinc. Oxides of these metals were used in artists' pigments.

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