`Blood in ancient gourd` belonged to King Loius XVI of France

Scientists have solved a centuries-old mystery over blood remains found in an ancient decorated gourd.

Last Updated: Jan 02, 2013, 14:11 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Washington: Scientists have solved a centuries-old mystery over blood remains found in an ancient decorated gourd dating back to 1793 and concluded that it might belong to a slain French king who was beheaded in the same year.

French King Louis XVI was guillotined on January 21, 1793 in the Place de la Revolution by revolutionaries who are said to have dipped their handkerchiefs into the king’s blood and keep it as a souvenir of the regicide.

One of such souvenirs was an ornate ancient gourd, with pictures of the revolutionaries painted over it and a piece of rag dipped in the blood of the fallen king within.

The gourd, which is in possession of an Italian family now, is supposedly said to be that of a revolutionary named Maximilien Bourdaloue who witnessed Louis’s public decapitation and joined others in dipping his handkerchief in the pool of blood left at the foot of the guillotine.

Bourdaloue then secreted this garment inside the ancient gourd container, also known as calabash.

The scientists say that the DNA from the residue in the ancient gourd matches very much with the genetic material acquired from a mummified head of another French king, who might be paternally related to the beheaded king Louis XVI, the BBC reported.

The new analysis by Spanish and French experts has been published in Forensic Science International journal.

Scientists have found out that the genetic material from the ancient gourd container shares a paternal linkage with the DNA from the mummified head of King Henri IV, one of the ancestors of Louis XVI. Louis was one of his direct male-line descendants, separated by seven generations.

According to the new findings, King Henri IV possessed a rare partial “Y” chromosome, also found in the genetic residue of the calabash.