The hunt for the real Mona Lisa has led researchers to a Renaissance tomb in Florence, Reuters reported Friday.
Investigators have opened the tomb in hopes of establishing a connection between Lisa Gherardini, a neighbor of Leonardo da Vinci's, and the model for the world's most famous painting.
"For centuries, historians the world over have been coming up with various theories about who this enigmatic, mysterious woman could have been," said Silvano Vinceti, who heads Italy's National Committee for the Promotion of Historic and Cultural Heritage, according to Reuters.
According to reports, the tomb contains the remains of Gherardini’s sons and husband, a silk merchant, and researchers will match the DNA of her sons to three skeletons that were unearthed at a nearby convent last year, one of which is believed to be Gherardini’s.
It is believed that Gherardini spent her last years at the Saint Orsola convent.
"When we find a match between mother and child -- then we will have found the Mona Lisa," Vinceti, told Reuters.
And, once the match is established – which could take years -- scientists hope to recreate the woman’s facial structure and compare it to the Mona Lisa painting, which is one of the top attractions in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The painting was painted sometime between 1503 and 1506, and according to an Associated Press report, Gherardini died in 1542.
"If we succeed, we can finally resolve three questions which have obsessed historians and art-lovers worldwide,” Vinceti said. “Was Gherardini the model for the Mona Lisa? Or was it some other model, as some people say? Or is it just a construction of the painter's fantasy?"