Blood of Louis XVI found in gourd container
Wednesday 9 January 2013
Source: Forensic Science International.
A team of scientists have said they believe an old gourd contains the blood of French King Louis XVI. The scientists said the DNA is very similar to genetic material from what is believed to be the mummified head of an earlier French king. The team of experts from Spain and France has published its findings in Forensic Science International journal.
A mummified head was identified in 2010 as belonging to Henri IV, King of France. A putative blood sample from the King Louis XVI preserved into a pyrographically decorated gourd was analyzed in 2011. Both kings are in a direct male-line descent, separated by seven generations.
Researchers have retrieved the hypervariable region 1 of the mitochondrial DNA as well as a partial Y-chromosome profile from Henri IV. Five STR loci match the alleles found in Louis XVI, while another locus shows an allele that is just one mutation step apart. Taking into consideration that the partial Y-chromosome profile is extremely rare in modern human databases, they concluded that both males could be paternally related. The likelihood ratio of the two samples belonging to males separated by seven generations (as opposed to unrelated males) was estimated as 246.3, with a 95% confidence interval between 44.2 and 9729.
Historically speaking, this forensic DNA data would confirm the identity of the previous Louis XVI sample, and give another positive argument for the authenticity of the head of Henri IV.
Louis XVI was executed by guillotine by French revolutionaries more than 200 years ago, on 21 January 1793.