Bones uncovered in the Vatican as part of an investigation into the disappearance of a teenage girl in 1983 are too old to belong to her, a spokesman has said.

Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican employee, went missing in 1983 at the age of 15 after failing to return from a music lesson.

Two sets of bones were found after the tombs of two 19th-century German princesses were opened in the cemetery of the Pontifical Teutonic College after the family of Ms Orlandi received a tip-off.

Reporters gather around Pietro Orlandi (L), the brother or Emanuela Orlandi, a teenager who disappeared in 1983 in one of Italy's darkest mysteries
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Pietro Orlandi (L), the brother or Emanuela Orlandi, called for the exhumation
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They were discovered under a stone slab, but according to a Vatican spokesman an expert has rejected Ms Orlandi’s family’s request to send the 70 bones for laboratory testing because they were “very ancient”.

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The case has been one of the enduring mysteries of the Vatican, kept alive by the Italian media and a quest by the girl’s brother Pietro Orlandi to find answers.

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Over the years, her disappearance has been linked to everything from the plot to kill the late Pope John Paul II to the financial scandal of the Vatican bank and Rome’s criminal underworld.

The last major twist in the case came in 2012, when Italian forensic police exhumed the body of a reputed mobster from the crypt of a Roman basilica in hopes of finding Ms Orlandi’s remains as well. The search turned up no link.

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Last year, bones were found underneath the Vatican’s embassy to Italy in Rome.

Italian media immediately speculated the remains could belong to Ms Orlandi or another girl who went missing at around the same time.

But forensic tests showed the bones long predated their disappearances.

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