"Lovers of Modena" Skeletons Turned Out to be Men

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"Lovers of Modena" Skeletons Turned Out to be Men

Photo Credit via Live Science and Wikipedia


According to a study conducted by Federico Lugli and colleagues of journal portal Nature Research, the two 1,600-year-old skeletons buried hand-in-hand are men, cites Owen Jarus of science news platform Live Science. The “lovers of Modena” were first unearthed in 2009 in an ancient cemetery. The remains attracted media attention “because of their seemingly romantic poses.”  At first, scientists could not determine the sexes of the skeletons because the remains were of poor condition.

However, Lugli and his team successfully identified the sexes of the perished individuals after analyzing their teeth enamel. The researchers found that the skeletons’ teeth contained amelogenin isoform Y, a protein solely found “in the enamel of males.” They wrote, “We suggest that the 'Lovers of Modena' burial represents a voluntary expression of commitment between two individuals.” However, Lugli and his co-researchers do not know whether their commitment was romantic. Interestingly, archaeologists also found 11 other skeletons. Some sustained injuries, suggesting “that these people had fought in a war.” 


Photo Credit via CNN


As stated by the researchers, "The two 'Lovers' could have been war comrades or friends, died together during a skirmish and, thus, buried within the same grave.” On the other hand, the men might have been cousins or brothers considering their similar ages. Perhaps they shared the same grave out of familial love. Lugli and his colleagues commented that it is unlikely for someone to position the bodies hand-in-hand to show their strong bond. 


Photo Credit via Nature


Modena was controlled by the Western Roman Empire when it divided in two. Modena suffered from internal unrest and barbaric attacks. By the time the men were buried, many people in the region converted to Christianity. In fact, authorities even implemented laws against homosexual relationships because they disapproved of it. 

Lugli tells not-for-profit organization ANSA news agency, “There are currently no other burials of this type. Several tombs have been found in the past with couples holding hands, but in all cases it was a man and a woman." This was reported by Rory Sullivan and Gianluca Mezzofiore of American news channel CNN. 

For now, the bond shared between the two men remains a mystery, Lugli adds. 



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