October 17, 2019
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Lovers of Modena were two men so why were they buried together?

 An undated handout photo made available by the University of Bologna shows a couple of skeletons known as the 'Lovers of Modena' (Gli amanti di Modena), in Modena, northern Italy 12 September 2019. EFE/EPA/UNIVERSITY OF BOLOGNA HANDOUT

An undated handout photo made available by the University of Bologna shows a couple of skeletons known as the 'Lovers of Modena' (Gli amanti di Modena), in Modena, northern Italy 12 September 2019. EFE/EPA/UNIVERSITY OF BOLOGNA HANDOUT

Rome, Sep 13 (efe-epa).- For ten years two skeletons lying side by side with their hands clasped were known as the Lovers of Modena but it has now been discovered that they were two men and experts are trying to figure out why they were buried together.

The pair were discovered in 2009 during excavations in a Modena necropolis built some 1500 years ago and they immediately became known as the two lovers but a new study by researchers from the Universities of Bologna, Modena and Regio Emilia has proven the bodies belong to the same sex thanks to new revolutionary techniques.

"When the bodies were found in 2009, the traditional techniques of skeletal anthropology could not reveal their sex due to the poor state of the remains," Federico Lugli, researcher at the University of Bologna and first author of this study published in the Scientific Reports journal, told EFE.

"The media, seeing the intertwined hands, wrote the story of the lovers, but on a scientific level, neither the sex nor the degree of kinship had been tested " the expert added.

In 2017, a very important study launched a new method capable of defining the sex of a skeleton from a protein found in dental enamel.

A team from the University of Bologna decided to apply it to the famous lovers, the Lugli added.

The sex of the two bodies was successfully pinpointed thanks to the fact their dental proteins were intact and researchers confirmed they were both males.

Lugli explained that what's on the investigators' minds now is to understand why they were buried together because at present there is no record of this type of burial at that moment in time.

"The various graves with two buried people who joined their hands were always a man and a woman," he said.

"We have begun to study the inorganic component of the tooth, which will allow us to know the geographical origin of the bodies, and we will also apply new techniques to establish the DNA which will give us more information about both of them, including whether they could be relatives, which is the most likely option," the expert added.

It has taken a year to extract the protein from the teeth and to analyse the findings so learning why they were buried together may prove somewhat more difficult.

When asked whether a love story had been destroyed, the Italian answered: "Unfortunately yes".

It was modern-day media who constructed the story in the first place though, Lugli mused.

A very remote hypothesis is that the pair were homosexual lovers, but at that time same sex relationships were allowed, Lugli added, so it would have been improbable that someone would have agreed to bury them together.

Some researchers have suggested that they could be soldiers killed together in battle given their place of burial could have been a war cemetery. EFE-EPA

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