Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci predicted that the world would end in 4006, a Vatican researcher has claimed.
According to Sabrina Sforza Galitzia, da Vinci foresaw the end of the world in a "universal flood" which would begin on March 21, 4006 and end on November 1, 4006.
"He believed that this would mark a new start for humanity," she said.
The Vatican researcher came to the conclusion by deciphering the clues which are available in da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ mural - the lunette above his painting of Jesus Christ with his disciples before crucifixion.
“There is a da Vinci code - it is just not the one made popular by Dan Brown,” said Galitzia, who studied da Vinci manuscripts as a researcher at California University in Los Angeles and now works in the Vatican archives.
Last year, the Vatican published her study ‘The Last Supper of Leonardo in the Vatican’, in which she examined a tapestry of the Last Supper made for King Louis XIII of France, based on da Vinci’s design for his famous mural.
Galitzia said she was working on a sequel which would explain da Vinci’s hidden “code”, involving signs of the zodiac and his use of the 24 letters of the Latin alphabet to represent the 24 hours of the day.
Da Vinci had seen the story of humanity as leading to "the sum of all things, the final reckoning" described in the Book of Revelations but also by ancient writers such as Plato and Aristotle, the Times quoted Galitzia as saying.
He had been a scientist and man of faith who had lived in "difficult times" and had hidden his messages "so as not to be attacked", she said. Da Vinci began working on the Last Supper in 1495 and finished it in 1498.