A PAIR of skeletons discovered with their hands intertwined have been revealed to both be men.
The skeletons, found in Italy were dubbed the Lovers of Modena after it was revealed the pair had been intentionally buried with their hands clasped together for eternity.
Scientists struggled to identify the sex of the skeletons when the bones were first found, as they had been badly preserved.
It was assumed that the couple were most likely husband and wife.
But a new technique which uses protein from tooth enamel revealed the pair of bones were both boys.
Scientists from the University of Bologna said in the journal Scientific Reports:”We were able to extract proteins from the dental enamel of both individuals and to confidently classify them as males.”
The bodies are thought to have been buried around 4-6th Century AD, with a popular theory being that the pair were soldiers who fought in battle together.
According to scientists, it’s unlikely the pair were gay as “social attitudes” and Christian beliefs prohibited homosexual activity – however, the two men’s relationship will never be proven.
Researchers suggested that the burial site, which also featured a number of other, single graves could have been a battle ground as other skeletons found in the cemetery showed signs of trauma, “likely related to their violent death during war conflicts,” the team said.
“The two ‘Lovers’ could have been war comrades or friends, who died together during a skirmish and were buried within the same grave.
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“Alternatively, the two individuals were relatives, possibly cousins or brothers given their similar ages, sharing the same grave due to their family bond.”
Federico Lugli, the lead author of the findings, told Italy’s Rai television network: “Many tombs have been found in the past with couples holding hands, but in those cases it was a man and a woman. What may have been the bond between these two individuals is a mystery.”
The research team said that “the discovery of two adult males intentionally buried hand-in-hand may have profound implications for our understanding of funerary practices in Late Antique Italy.”
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