Two fingers and a tooth belonging
to famed astronomer Galileo Galilei have been found more than
100 years after going missing, a museum in Italy says.
The body parts were removed
from him 95 years after his death, when Church authorities
decreed he could be reburied in consecrated ground.
One finger and the vertebrae have been conserved in museums
since then, but a tooth and two fingers from the scientist's
right hand — the thumb and middle finger — were kept by one of
the admirers, an Italian marquis, and later enclosed in a
container that was passed on from generation to generation.
But with time, the
generations lost knowledge of what was actually inside the
container, and the family sold it. By
1905, all traces of the relics had disappeared.
The container recently
turned up at auction and was purchased by a private collector,
intrigued by the contents but not sure they were Galileo's
The buyer eventually contacted Florence
culture officials, who used detailed historical documents, as
well as documentation from the family that had owned it for so
long, to conclude that the fingers and tooth were Galileo's
The museum said that the discovery meant that everything taken
from Galileo's body was now back "in responsible hands".
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