Undying Love Proven By Dead Lovers

Archaeologists got a bit of romantic surprise when they uncovered these skeletons in their final embrace. Discovered near the northern Italian city of Mantova, the petrified pair are estimated to be over 5,000 years old and certainly the first of their kind. Lead archaeologist Elena Menotti says:

There has not been a double burial found in the Neolithic period, much less two people hugging — and they really are hugging. I must say that when we discovered it, we all became very excited. I’ve been doing this job for 25 years. I’ve done digs at Pompeii, all the famous sites. But I’ve never been so moved because this is the discovery of something special.

Menotti thinks they couple – who she believes to be a man and a woman, but we’d like to think are two men – died young, for their teeth are pretty much intact. Scientists are now working on confirming their age and time of death.

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  • Craig

    “A Loving Embrace” says the headline, because the skeletons are assumed to be a male and a female. I bet if the archeologists found two obviously male skeletons in this position, the headline would be “Warriors Struggle to Mutual Death.”

  • Rachael

    Any speculation on the sex of either skeleton is just speculation at this point. It could be two women, two men, a man and a women, and even so, until a DNA profile is done, the relationship between them could be that of siblings or some other close blood relation. Reports of this kind are premature at this point.

    Now, there is precedence for two men being found buried in an embrace – the Weerdinge bog mummies. For years, it was assumed that the two were a male and a female. DNA revealed the truth. However, all that can be told with scientific certainty is that both of those mummies were adult males and not related maternally. The DNA which was tested was mitochondrial DNA, which only indicates if they shared a mother or maternal relation. They may have had the same father, or they may have been related on their father’s side. Further testing would need to be done to determine that, but the sources of DNA in the bodies are extremely limited. Because neither body had an intact head, DNA from teeth, which would probably be the best source in a mummy of their age, cannot be obtained. However, without further testing or a time machine there is no concrete way of knowing the relationship between the individuals. Last year, they were on desplay at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

    The good news in the case of the Italian skeletons is that, even thought they are 3,000 – 4,000 years older than the bog mummies, the teeth are reported to be intact. There’s a good chance that DNA from inside some of the molars will produce good DNA samples and, I hope, full profiles which will show whether or not there is any blood relation on either side. This will enable anthropologists to speculate on why they were buried in this manner with more certainty. However, it will probably take months, if not years, to get the final word.

    As I said, speculation of any kind right now is premature, and I wish that the press wouldn’t say anything more than what we know. And what we know is that two human skeletons, assumed to be of the Neolithic period, were recently uncovered by archaeologists at a dig in northern Italy. The find is unique because no other Neolithic burial of its kind has ever been uncovered, and the skeletons are in excellent condition. The individuals are thought to have been young at the time of death due to the condition of the teeth. Cause of death, age of the find, exact age and sex of the individuals, and their connection to each other is yet to be determined. It really is irresponsible of the press and the archaeologists to say anything more than that.

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