Final Resting Place of Nicolas Copernicus is Confirmed

Article written: 20 Nov , 2008
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
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The rightful place of the man who put the Earth in its rightful place has now been confirmed. New DNA analysis confirms that the remains of a 70-year old man found in Frombork Cathedral in Northern Poland are those of Nicolas Copernicus. Discovered three years ago, the remains allowed archaeologists produce a facial reconstruction from the skull, creating a likeness to portraits of Copernicus. But though the placement of the grave and the age of the body corresponded to the details of Copernicus’ death, scientists couldn’t be sure that the remains were actually those of Copernicus himself.

Copernicus – often known as the “father of modern astronomy” – formulated a predictive model of the Solar System that put the Sun at the center, rather than the Earth, which was believed to be the center of the Universe up until the end 16th century. He wasn’t the first to put forward the idea of heliocentrism, though; that distinction belongs to Aristarchus of the Greek island Samos, who lived in the 3rd century BC.

Copernicus, born in 1473 in Poland, used his own observations to formulate a heliocentric model of the Solar System, which he presented in his book, De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (which, translated from Latin, means “On the Revolutions of Celestial Spheres”). Copernicus didn’t publish the book until 1543, the year of his death, out of fear of religious persecution. His model of the Solar System influenced Kepler to formulate his laws of planetary motion, and Galileo suffered much persecution for insisting that Copernicus was right.

The DNA analysis of two strands of hair from a book that Copernicus is known to have owned – Calendarium Romanum Magnum, by Johannes Stoeffler – match the DNA of a tooth and femur bone taken from the remains at Frombork. The book, along with a number of Copernicus’ other tomes, was taken to Sweden during the 17th century Polish-Swedish wars, and is now located at Uppsala University.

Jerzy Gasowski of the Pultusk School of Humanities in Poland was the first to find the remains in 2005, using radar to search underneath the floor of the cathedral where Copernicus was thought to have been entombed. A skull sent for forensic analysis generated the image above, but there was no DNA evidence to corroborate the find until now.

Source: BBC, Discovery


14 Responses

  1. Vagueofgodalming says

    It is awesome.

    And, in a few years, we’ll be able to clone him, leading directly to the invention of the warp drive.

  2. Astrofiend says

    Copernicus – we’re forever in your debt; but goddamn you were an ugly man!

    Jokes aside – you can imagine the pilgrimages that will be heading over there now that it is confirmed as the site of his burial.

  3. Steve says

    Definately a significant find in the historical department. Hope he looked a little better than the north end of a south bound mule, but the looks with fit the logic of being a lonely old scientist 😛

  4. Nat says

    Looks like James Cromwell to me:

    http://listverse.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/tn2-james-cromwell-1.jpg

    The fact that we matched DNA in a hair sample to DNA found in the bones of someone who died over four centuries ago is pretty awesome to me.

  5. El Sabio says

    For goodness sake, please get rid of that IMVU advert. It is the most childish-looking garbage, and unfortunately it is putting me off your site. Why not replace it with an advert for telescopes?

  6. Stankiewicz says

    This is amazing that from a few old hairs they were able to make the confirmation. I was in Frombork just two years ago and took a picture of a marker in the catherdral saying he was buried there and I likley stood right over his grave. It was a fasinating place and beautuful little place to visit along the Baltic coast not far from the Russian border. I feel lucky and blessed to have been there to have been this close to my astronomical hero!

  7. David Ghosh says

    This is pretty amazing,great Astrophysical man on those days Nicolas Copernicus skull has been unearthed and new technology applied (DNA genome) to re-build the face of great man,who was confirmed to-day’s (16 th Century) finding long ago,when there was no Telescope but only mathematics.
    Thank you very much.
    David

  8. chrisman says

    looks more like Zefram Cochrane to me..

  9. OMG chrisman, that is hilarious! But of course he looks like the “First Contact” Zefram, not TOS version.

  10. Haplo says

    That’s because he IS Cochrane. Kirk send him back so we could develop all the science we have now 😉

  11. […] Investigadores polacos y suecos confirmaron el jueves que los restos humanos hallados hace tres años en la catedral de Frombork, en Polonia, pertenecen al astrónomo Nicolás Copérnico, que habría muerto en esa localidad en 1543 […] Fuente: Nicholos Wethington para Universe Today, y BBC.

  12. Peter says

    Copernicus had in his youth broken nose. It is a historical fact and is consistent with the reconstruction.

  13. Member

    Peter is right, Copernicus did have his nose broken early in life, which left the telltale crooked nose. But man, he is sure a dead ringer for Cochrane, chrisman.

  14. LLDIAZ says

    He looks like he was either drunk or bored out of his mind when he was posed for this picture.

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