07/18/2012 at 03:40 PM EDT
Mona Lisa's bones may have been found under an Italian church – but some say that's nothing to smile about.
Archaeologists uncovered the remains in a crypt beneath an altar at the Convent of St. Orsola in Florence, which was used at the time of Lisa Gherardini, the woman believed to have inspired Leonardo da Vinci's famous portrait.
Documents suggest that Gherardini, a member of a minor noble family, could have been buried there in 1542.
The bones will undergo several tests, including radiocarbon dating and DNA comparisons to the known bones of Gherardini's children, according to lead researcher Silvano Vinceti.
The project has been criticized by Gherardini's descendants, including Italian princess Natalia Guicciardini Strozzi, who told the UK's The Telegraph
that digging up the bones was "a sacrilegious act".
"What difference would finding her remains make to the allure of Leonardo's painting?" she asks