Galileo's missing fingers 'found'

Galileo's missing fingers 'found'

Paolo Galluzzi, Director of the Museum of the History of Science, said the body parts were removed by admirers from the astronomer’s body in 1737 when his corpse was being moved from a storage place to a monumental tomb in Santa Croce Basilica in Florence.

One of the fingers was recovered soon after, and is now part of the museum’s collection, and the vertebra has been kept at the University of Padua. But the tooth and two of the fingers — the thumb and middle finger — from the scientist’s right hand, were kept by one of the admirers, an Italian marquis, and later kept in a container which was passed on from generation to generation in the same family, Galluzzi said.

“But with time, the generations lost knowledge of what was actually inside the container and the family sold it,” the museum said. But, the container recently turned up at auction and purchased by a collector. The buyer contacted Galluzzi and other Florence culture officials, who used historical documents, to conclude they were Galileo’s fingers and tooth.

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