The ‘Lovers of Valdaro’ (Photo by Wikimedia Commons).

When archaeologist Elena Maria Menotti and her team dug a Neolithic tomb in a nearby village of Mantua, Italy, they were shocked to find two skeletons locked in what seems to be a lover’s embrace. Dubbed as the “Lovers of Valdaro”, the two skeletons appeared to have died to hug and staring at each other’s eyes.

After the skeletons were carbon-dated, the two young lovers were found to have been buried about 6,000 years ago. Scientists placed their age at about 20 because their teeth were already intact. Although it might not be possible to know the real cause of their demise, osteological examination done by archaeologists showed no signs of violence.

Flint tools as grave goods buried with the lovers 

Included in the burial site were pieces of flint tools that scientists believe to be burial goods. An arrowhead was found near the male’s neck and several pieces of stone blades were found beside the thigh of the woman. Two other flint knives were also discovered under the pelvic bones of the woman’s skeleton.

Typical of ancient burial sites, these grave goods are considered to have been buried with them and not the cause of their deaths. The artifacts of ancients believe were earthly possessions a dead person can take to heaven.

An ancient ‘Romeo and Juliet’ scene

Mantua is a city in north Lombardy closely situated to Verona, the site of Shakespeare’s play, Romeo, and Juliet. In his story, Mantua was also where Romeo fled and learned of Juliet’s death. This surprising coincidence has led people to think that the skeletons found in Valdaro were star-crossed lovers like Romeo and Juliet.

It’s also fascinating to know that double burials were not practiced in the region and it’s uncanny for two people to have been buried in a fashion that seems to be embracing. The discovery made it to the headlines around the world especially when the skeletons were discovered close to Valentine’s Day.