In 2003, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Granada led by Professor Jose Antonio Lorente tried to study the DNA of Christopher Columbus to definitively know his origin. The team decided to stop the mission two years later due to an ethical and scientific issue: conclusive results could not be reached. Now that DNA techniques have advanced a lot and there are new studies, it has been decided to resume the investigation. Jose Antonio Lorente is a professor of Legal and Forensic Medicine and director of the Genetic Identification Laboratory of the University of Granada.
–How is it close now to know the origin of Colon
–Now it is closer because before it was further away. Well, jokes aside. It is closer due to the evolution of genetic analysis techniques and scientific publications on this matter. The possibility of analyzing small samples and in poor conditions, such as those of Colon and his relatives, has been greatly improved.
–Now there are also small remains of bones of his son Hernando and his brother Diego that I imagine will provide data.
–Of course, identification is always comparison. The DNA of Christopher Columbus would only provide limited information, especially because depending on the different theories, Columbus’s siblings were siblings from father and mother, or only from father, or only from mother. And here DNA can help.
–Why is it so important to know where the discoverer of America was born
–The answer depends on who is asked the question. It oscillates between those who say that nothing matters, to those who say (the majority) that it is something curious and that if science can provide objective data, then great. And then there are those who are quite interested because they are historians and Columbian scholars who have dedicated decades of their lives to defending theories other than the official one of Genoese origin, and who would see their research completed if DNA could prove what they defend.
–And now if you could know for sure
–This project is not based on doubting the Genoese origins of Columbus, but on seeing if science can provide data that support it, or that support another theory. In any case, history will not change. Columbus was who he was and did what he did, but it is true that the experts could reinterpret certain passages of the life and work, of the claims and sayings of Columbus according to the results that there may be, especially if they confirm another origin .
–You could have done the research in 2003 when the bones of Columbus were exhumed, publish where you were born and spend years lecturing around the world. why didn’t you
-The circumstances did not exist. I think I would have had a great time giving lectures around the world telling stories about how it was done. And it would even have changed my life (ha, ha, ha). But actually I didn’t. And I didn’t do it because I realized that with the material we had (the bones) very little information was obtained. But obviously, when many people over the years have asked me and pressed me saying that I already had the data but that I didn’t want to publish it, I told them the opposite: I wish I had had it in 2003 and I could have spent a lot of time telling it. .
–What will be known exactly when the DNA study of the bones of the Colon is done
-You can know everything, or almost everything about Colon. Or we may stay as we are, but frustrated on top. As in any research project, what comes out will depend on the state of each bone fragment that we are going to analyze. The result cannot be guaranteed a priori. At the University of Granada and the centers that collaborate we have experience, the best technology and maximum efforts, but each case is each case. I can do a perfect study a hundred times, but if the colon bone is poorly preserved or contaminated, bad.
-There are many theories about the birth of the discoverer of America. It has even been said that he is Galician and Catalan.
-There are theories that indicate who exactly is the family (father and mother) of Columbus. Among them there are three Portuguese theories and the so-called Galician, Alcarrena and Majorcan. And there are other theories that indicate that he may be from a certain region, but without identifying his parents or relatives in the area. Among them is the most universally accepted Genoese, Navarran, Catalan and Valencian theories.
-The comment that he possibly had Jewish origin I think has caused him some problem,
-Well, there have been people who have contacted me from time to time by various means saying opposite and absurd things, such as that I was receiving pressure from the Israeli government to confirm the Jewish origin, or the opposite, pressure from Arab countries so that the conclusion was that it was not Jewish. Jew: all this absurd and without major significance.
–You believe that with your study all the enigmas about Columbus will be solved.
–The answer may seem like a joke, but it is what it is because of what we have already seen and valued: maybe yes, maybe no. I mean that there is a real potential to reach clear and definitive conclusions, but there is also the possibility that nothing will be achieved.

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