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Velazquez’s Remains Said Located

April 6, 1999

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ Historians poring over brittle, yellowing maps say they have located the remains of Spanish master painter Velazquez _ give or take a few yards.

If confirmed, the find would fit it in nicely with officials’ hopes of marking this year’s 400th anniversary of Velazquez’s birth by giving his bones a more elegant resting place than under a street in downtown Madrid.

That much has been known for centuries_ that Diego de Silva y Velazquez, who died in 1660, was buried in a vault beneath the Church of St. John on the site of today’s Ramales Square, near the Royal Palace. His wife Juana died three days later, allegedly of a broken heart.

Velazquez is known for paintings such as ``Las Meninas″ which hangs in Madrid’s Prado art museum.

The church was torn down in 1808, when Napoleonic forces ruled Spain, so that Jose Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother, could have a better view from the palace.

Archeologists have dug twice to try to locate the Velazquez crypt _ once in 1845 and again in 1960, but came up empty-handed.

The reason, historian Manuel Montero Vallejo told the El Pais newspaper on Tuesday, is that the maps they were using were slightly off. Portuguese cartographer Pedro Texeira, hired by Spain’s King Felipe IV, drew a map in which he moved some buildings just a bit so streets showed up more clearly.

``The Church of St. John is one of them,″ he told El Pais. ``That’s why in the 19th century when they looked for the remains of the church with that map, they dug in a spot that was actually a considerable distance from the right spot.″

Montero Vallejo, leading a team of independent historians, says with blueprints of the church and other centuries-old documents they have pinpointed the burial site to within two yards.

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