MADRID, March 17 (UPI) -- The mortal remains of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the Spanish author of the literature classic Don Quixote, have finally been located beneath an old Madrid heritage site, officials said Tuesday.
Researchers found the badly damaged bones in January, along with fragments of a wooden casket that bore the initials "M" and "C" and remains belonging to others, in a crypt under a convent. Although the remains are not in good shape, scientists said they are nonetheless certain the bones are Cervantes'.
"We are sure what the historical sources say is the burial of Miguel de Cervantes and the other people buried with him is what we have found," forensic scientist Almudena Garcia Rubio said in a report by BBC News.
The city of Madrid confirmed the discovery in a tweet Tuesday, saying there are no discrepancies between what scientists found and what they expected to find.
Cervantes authored Don Quixote: The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, the famed tale of a crusading Spanish noble, in the early 17th Century. The writer is highly regarded as an influential part of Spain's literary history. In fact, his mastery of the Spanish language has led many to refer to it as "la lengua de Cervantes" -- the language of Cervantes. He was also known as "El Príncipe de los Ingenios" -- the Prince of Wits.
Cervantes died at the age of 68 from complications due to diabetes in 1616, one year after part two of Don Quixote was first published in Spanish, and he was buried beneath Madrid's Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians. His remains were removed 60 years later when work on the convent was being performed, and returned after it was completed.
However, for centuries afterward no one knew exactly where the bones were placed upon their return, which led archaeologists last year to launch an effort to locate them.
Scientists said Cervantes' bones were discovered along with those of several other people in the crypt, including those of his wife. They hope DNA testing will allow them to separate the remains and determine which of the bones belong to Cervantes.
Madrid city officials said the author will be reburied at the site, in a new vault and with "full honors." The new crypt will be opened to the public next year, for the first time in centuries, to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Cervantes' death, the BBC News report said.
Don Quixote is considered a classic in Western literature and is believed by many historians to have been the first modern European novel ever written. Part one was first published in English in 1612, followed by part two eight years later.
Officials said the efforts to find Cervantes' remains weren't simply about finding bones, but they were also motivated by a desire to honor his legacy and spur younger generations to discover his works.
Last year, archaeologists also hoped finding Cervantes' bones might allow them to use modern forensic methods to construct a portrait of the writer's face -- something that has never been seen. The only clue as to Cervantes' appearance is provided by a painting by Spanish artist Juan Martínez de Jáuregui y Aguilar, which was composed 20 years after the author's death.
Rubio's assessment of the bones' condition, however, may now cast doubt about anthropologists' ability to accomplish that.