Richard III update

The news was all over Twitter this morning that DNA analysis has confirmed the identity of a skeleton as Richard III.

BBC News: Richard III dig: DNA confirms bones are king’s. “Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley, from the University of Leicester, told a press conference to applause: ‘Beyond reasonable doubt it’s Richard.'”

NYT: Bones Under Parking Lot Belonged to Richard III. “Richard Taylor, the University of Leicester registrar  who coordinated the team of archaeologists, historians, genealogists and geneticists who worked to make the identification after the skeleton was found buried six feet below a corner of a municipal parking lot, said that the last piece of the scientific puzzle fell into place with DNA findings that became available on Sunday, five months after the skeletal remains were uncovered.”

And a blog post from It is Richard III: “beyond reasonable doubt.” The post goes into a lot more detail about the findings, osteoarchaeological analysis of the skeleton and wounds on it, how they found which DNA to compare the skeleton against, and plans for the skeleton and site.

I’m fascinated because, as an American, it’s easy for me to forget that some of Shakespeare’s plays were histories and thus many of the characters actually existed (though characters and events were not as Shakespeare wrote them, to varying degrees). My primary education consisted of social studies classes wherein history started around 1776 and ended maybe in 1950, and all else is either lost to the mists of time or too recent to be “history.” Finding the bones of Richard III is kind of like finding the Capulet tomb in Verona with Romeo and Juliet still in it, or finding the shipwreck that Prospero caused in The Tempest.

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