Correction to This Article
An item in the Science Notebook on April 9 gave the incorrect name of the gene linked to smallness in dogs. The gene is called IGF-1.


Monday, April 9, 2007

Analysis Shows Bone, Remains Not Likely to Be From Joan of Arc

A bone and other remains long thought to be those of Joan of Arc appear to be fakes, a new analysis shows.

A piece of human bone long thought to be her rib, a piece of cloth, and a bone from a cat said to have been killed with her have been housed in a museum in Chinon, France. They were found in 1867 in a jar in the attic of a Paris pharmacy with the inscription "Remains found under the stake of Joan of Arc, virgin of Orleans."

Joan of Arc was tried for heresy and witchcraft and burned at the stake at age 19 in 1431 after leading the French to several victories over the English in the Hundred Years' War.

Beginning last year, a team of researchers led by Philippe Charlier, a forensic scientist at Poincare Hospital in Garches, France, analyzed the remains with a battery of tests. They also conducted a pollen analysis and asked perfumers to smell the remains.

Based on the tests, they concluded the remnants had never been burned and were more likely to have come from an Egyptian mummy, the journal Nature reported.

"I see burnt remains all the time," Charlier told the journal. "It was obviously not burnt tissue."

In addition, carbon-14 analysis dated the remains to between the 3rd and 6th centuries B.C.

The researchers speculated that the remains were labeled as those of Joan of Arc around the time when she was canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

-- Rob Stein

Seating in Ancient Greek Theater Found to Help the Acoustics

The Greek theater of Epidaurus has long been considered a marvel of acoustics. Over the years, people have come up with a number of explanations as to why those who sit in the back of the semicircular theater, built in the 4th century B.C., can hear performers on the stage with such clarity.

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