|19 February 2007
Italy won't split up ancient 'lovers'
Italian scientists said they are determined to remove and preserve together the remains of a couple buried 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, their arms still wrapped around each other in an enduring embrace. Instead of removing the bones one-by-one for reassembly later, archaeologists plan to scoop up the entire section of earth where the couple was buried, they told Reuters. The plot will then be transported for study before being put on display in an Italian museum, thereby preserving the world’s longest known hug for posterity.
"We want to keep can them just as they have been all this time — together," archaeologist Elena Menotti, who announced the discovery a week ago, said. Their removal will be a relief for archaeologists who had to hire extra security to guard the rural site outside the northern city of Mantova after the discovery made world headlines. More importantly, it will give scientists a chance to figure out what was has become one of Italian archaeology’s greatest mysteries: the first known Neolithic couple to be buried together, hugging.
Scientists acknowledge they still know precious little about the now-famous Stone Age couple, whose embrace has become a subject of world newspaper headlines and chat shows. Italians dubbed them the 'Lovers of Valdaro' after the Mantova suburb of farmland and factories. But even their gender is a open question until scientists confirm the theory that they were a man and a woman.
Archaeologists seem certain the couple died young, since their teeth are intact and that they died during the Stone Age because of an arrowhead and tools found with the remains. But new evidence indicates the couple were not alone and that the remains may have left been near a Stone Age settlement.
Source: MSNBC (12 February 2007)
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