Da Vinci text fragment re-discovered in France | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 07.12.2010
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Da Vinci text fragment re-discovered in France

Hundreds of years after the death of the prolific Italian renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci, a new text has been uncovered in France, reportedly on air, flight and birds.

Da Vinci portrait

Da Vinci lived in Italy and France from 1452-1519

A French journalist in the west of France has helped to re-discover a manuscript fragment written by Leonardo da Vinci, the famous 15th century Italian renaissance man.

Library archivists finally unearthed the text fragment in the Nantes public library late last week after being alerted to its possible presence by a reporter writing for a Nantes newspaper, Presse Ocean.

Local authorities say the fragment had sat undisturbed in the library's archives, which was part of a collection of documents donated to the city in 1872 by a wealthy collector.

The text is written mirrored right to left script, which was da Vinci's style, as a way to keep his documents somewhat secret.

"He was most probably writing in 15th-century Italian, and possibly in other languages, so it's now got to be deciphered," said Agnes Marcetteau, head of the Nantes library where the manuscript was found, in an interview Monday with the news agency Reuters.

Text mentions birds, flight

On its website, Presse Ocean reported Tuesday that it had confirmed the authenticity of the fragment with Carlo Pedretti, a da Vinci expert based in Los Angeles.

"It has to do with the air and the wind, relating to a study of the flight of birds. The fragment dates from around 1504," Pedretti told the French newspaper.

If that estimation proves to be accurate, that would put the text fragment around the same time that da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, which is now held in the Louvre museum in Paris.

This is the second rare item uncovered in the 1872 collection, after the discovery in 2008 of a never-before-seen score by composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Author: Cyrus Farivar (Reuters, AFP)
Editor: Andrew Bowen

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