5. CARAVAGGIO VS. PAINT
The Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio built a roguish reputation via brawling and banishment, and built an artistic reputation via his mastery of the shading technique chiaroscuro, shown above in his 1590s work Judith Beheading Holofernes
. Yet no one was quite sure where or how the Baroque master met his end.
In 2001, a death certificate came to light
suggesting that Caravaggio died in a hospital, and that his remains might be found in a municipal cemetery in the Tuscan town of Porto Ercole. With this clue and carbon dating kits, archeologists uncovered the remains of a tall man, 38 to 40 years old, who had died around 1610. After comparing DNA from the bones to DNA samples from possible descendants in the town of Caravaggio, the team announced
this summer that they were about 85 percent sure they had dug up the feisty painter. They also found high levels of lead in the could-be-Caravaggio bones, which they believe came from his paints. The lead poisoning paired with wounds from his brawls, the team told reporters, might have killed him.