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An architectural historian sorting through documents he found in Florence’s Buonarroti Archive believes he stumbled across what are actually Michelangelo’s first sketches of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. On a piece of parchment the Renaissance artist had written a satirical poem, the drawings have long puzzled historians as to what the shapes meant, until a stroke of genius from one researcher gave credence to this new theory.

The piece of paper looks almost like a doodle, with flourished, rounded triangular sections, pointed half-moons in a consecutive row. Appearing at the bottom of a piece of parchment, the drawings do in a way resemble flying buttresses or vaulted ceilings. Adriano Marinazzo says he knew immediately that the sketch corresponded to the ceiling of the chapel. After a bit of research, Marinazzo discovered that the drawings on the parchment corresponded exactly to the architectural elements that were present in the chapel during Michelangelo’s time. 

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[via The Wall Street Journal]