Image: Skull reconstruction
  Capt. Dariusz Zajdel M.A., Central Forensic Laboratory of the Polish Police / AFP - Getty Images
A computerized portrait, released Thursday by Polish police, reconstructs the face of a man whose skull was found buried in a cathedral in the northern city of Frombork. Archaeologists believe the skull was that of the 16th-century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.
updated 11/15/2005 11:49:12 AM ET 2005-11-15T16:49:12

Archaeologists believe they have located the grave of 16th-century astronomer and solar-system proponent Nicolaus Copernicus in a Polish church, one of the scientists announced Thursday.

Copernicus, who died in 1543 at 70 after challenging the ancient belief that the sun revolved around the earth, was buried at the Roman Catholic cathedral in the city of Frombork, 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of the capital, Warsaw.

Jerzy Gassowski, head of an archaeology and anthropology institute in the central Polish city of Pultusk, said his four-member team found what appears to be the skull of the Polish astronomer and clergyman in August, after a one-year search of tombs under the church floor.

“We can be almost 100 percent sure this is Copernicus,” Gassowski told The Associated Press by phone after making the announcement during a meeting of scientists.

Gassowski said police forensic experts used the skull to reconstruct a face that closely resembled the features — including a broken nose and scar above the left eye — on a Copernicus self-portrait. The experts also determined the skull belonged to a man who died at about age 70.

The grave was in bad condition and not all remains were found, Gassowski said, adding that his team will try to find relatives of Copernicus to do more accurate DNA identification.

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