Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Leonardo's mother: an Arab slave?

The Arabist has this from Discovery:

Da Vinci Fingerprint Reveals Arab Heritage?

Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News

Oct. 28, 2006 — Leonardo da Vinci may have had an Arab heritage, according to Italian researchers who have isolated and reconstructed the Renaissance master's fingerprint.

The fingerprint represents the only biological trace of the Florentine genius, said Luigi Capasso, an anthropologist at Chieti University...Fingerprints are unique and don't change over a lifetime. Analysis of the skin's arches, loops and whorls — a science known as dermatoglyphics — has shown that there is a link between fingerprints and populations.

In the case of Leonardo's fingertip, patterns and ridges pointed to the Middle East, the researchers concluded. "The fingerprint features patterns such as the central whorl that are dominant in the Middle East. About 60 percent of the Middle Eastern population display the same dermatoglyphic structure found in the fingerprint," Capasso said.

The discovery would support Vezzosi's claim that Leonardo's mother was not a local peasant girl as previously thought, but a Middle Eastern slave. According to Vezzosi, records unearthed in Vinci offer substantial evidence that Leonardo's father, a craftsman called Ser Piero Da Vinci, owned a Middle-Eastern female slave named Caterina.

"It was common in 15th century Tuscany to own slaves from the Middle East," said Vezzosi. Indeed, in 1452, the same year of Leonardo's birth, a law was passed in Florence that gave slave owners greater rights over their slaves. Shortly after the law was passed, Ser Piero married Caterina off to one of his workers. The woman had just given birth to a boy called Leonardo.


Anglo-Libyan said...

amazing what technology can do these days.
very interesting, I wonder if she was from Libya??

duniazad said...

salam anglo-libyan, thank you for your comment

yes its amazing technology, and so was the painstaking work the research team carried out over so many years...

I was imagining how she might have been captured, and now i'll just add the derna coastline as the setting :) It's entirely probable after all

Brave Heart said...

i read that before, and also read that Margret Tatcher the previous Britain PM has Arabic genes as well .
but my point is in that time it was known Muslims not allow their women to be taken as slaves.

BTW nice blog, keep going, i spent 2 years of my best days working in Tubrok

duniazad said...

Glad u have good memories of Tobruq-it might not be the most beautiful of Libyan cities, but the people are really wonderful =)

@_@ margaret thatcher has arab roots?! That's almost worse than Shaha Riza :-(

As for muslim women as slaves:it was part of warfare then, although i'm sure both sides would do anything to prevent it. I was reading an old history of alandalus and there were many accounts of such enslavement...

Brave Heart said...

Shaha Riza is completely Libyan.
i meant about slave women in that time the majority were from middle Aisia and Africa. but to be honest i'm not sure.
Tobruk problem is al ajaj, i hated

duniazad said...

Your probably right about the majority of slave women not being middleastern/north african, but given the number of wars in the region I think it is conceivable that Davinci's mother could have been one...but it's still just a theory

And yes the 3ajaj is just terrible, and its all through the year not just a few weeks like most places ÷(