A skeleton with a leg uncovered under a dance floor in Russia could reveal a secular mystery about Napoleon's favorite general.
The researchers discovered a body believed to be that of a general who died during Napoleon's 1812 campaign in Russia.
Now they have asked a French laboratory to perform DNA tests on its remains.
General Charles-Étienne Gudin was hit by a cannonball during the Battle of Valutino on August 19, 1812 near Smolensk, a city west of Moscow near the border with Belarus.
His leg was amputated and he died three days later of gangrene, aged 44.
The French army cut his heart, now buried in the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, but the site of the rest of his remains was never known, until the researchers discovered the probable skeleton this summer.
According to the BBC, the skeleton, believed to be that of Gudin, it was discovered in July in a wooden coffin in a park under the foundations of the building – a former dance floor reportedly.
The researchers said they would reveal the test results on the remains and solve the 200-year mystery Thursday, but the archaeologists involved in the excavation indicated that wounds on the body, as well as its size and age, leave little doubt. which was the famous general.
"As soon as I saw the skeleton with one leg, I knew we had our man," said the head of the archaeological team Marina Nesterova.
But at a press conference they said that the final results should come from a laboratory in France.
"For this to be 100% validated, it must be done in France, not in Russia," said project leader Pierre Malinowski, a historian and former soldier with links to the far French right and the Kremlin's support.
Malinowski said he asked the Marseille Forensic Institute to repatriate the body and perform DNA tests.
It is said that Gudin was one of Napoleon's favorite generals and that the two men attended the military school together. His name is engraved on the monument of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
The search for his remains has been underway since May.
"My deepest conviction is that it is he," said Alberic of Orleans, a descendant of the general who flew to Moscow.
"We hope he can be welcomed back to France with due honors" and be buried with Napoleon in the Invalides complex in Paris, he added.
Gudin's death near Smolensk came near the start of Napoleon's march to Moscow, 400 kilometers to the east.
Napoleon had hoped to defeat the Russian army in Valutino and sign a treaty advantageous, but he managed to escape and the Russian tsar Alexander refused to discuss peace.
Napoleon's march on Russia ended in a disastrous retreat as the Russians used scorched-earth tactics and even ordered Moscow to be burned to absorb Napoleon's resources.