The 1,600 year old skeletons found holding hands inside their grave, fondly called as ‘lovers of Modena’ are discovered to be both men new research reveals.
There are few known examples in the ancient world of skeletons buried holding hands and most of those found have been male-female and not the same sex.
Unearthed in an ancient cemetery in 2009, the skeletons attracted media attention because of their seemingly romantic death poses, which earned the skeletons the amorous nickname. But archaeologists couldn’t determine the sexes of the perished lovers because of the poor condition of the skeletons.
However, a team of scientists has now analyzed the skeletons’ teeth enamel and identified both skeletons as male, they reported online Sept. 11 in the journal Scientific Reports.
In the study, the scientists found that both skeletons’ teeth had a protein called amelogenin isoform Y, which is found only in the enamel of males, the research team wrote in Scientific Reports.
“We suggest that the ‘Lovers of Modena’ burial represents a voluntary expression of commitment between two individuals,” the researchers wrote, adding that they do not know if their commitment was romantic.