Experts to Test Possible Joan of Arc Bones
A team of scientists hopes to crack one of the layers of mystery surrounding 15th-century French heroine Joan of Arc: Could a rib and other fragments recovered after she was burned at the stake be hers?
Eighteen experts plan a battery of tests to determine whether the few remains reportedly recovered from the pyre where the 19-year-old was burned alive for heresy — including a rib bone and some skin — really could have belonged to her.
The woman warrior-turned-saint remains omnipresent in the French imagination, nearly 600 years after her ashes were thought to have been thrown into the Seine River.
The tests, which will take six months, will not be able to say with certainty that the remains are Joan of Arc's, because there is no known DNA sample from her to compare them with, said Dr. Philippe Charlier of the Raymond-Poincare Hospital in Garches, west of Paris.
But the analyses will determine with "absolute certitude" if the remains could not be hers, Charlier said at a news conference.
He said Joan of Arc supposedly was burned three times on May 30, 1431, following her trial in the Normandy town of Rouen. She initially died of smoke inhalation, according to Charlier, and when she was burned a second time, her internal organs were not fully consumed by the flames. Nothing was said to remain after the third cremation except her ashes.
The 6-inch rib bone was wrapped in a blackish substance and was "remarkably well-preserved," Charlier said.
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