Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Prehistoric Lovers Remain Entangled

Feb. 13, 2007 — Archaeologists working on the eve of Valentine's Day carefully began digging up the bones of a prehistoric couple on Tuesday, hoping to keep their 5,000-year-old embrace undisturbed forever.

The skeletons unearthed last week were being scooped out of the earth to undergo tests before going on display in the northern Italian city of Mantua, archaeologists said.

The pair, buried between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago in the late Neolithic period, are believed to be a man and a woman who died young, because their teeth were found intact. Archaeologists have hailed the find, saying that double burials from that period are rare and none have been found in such a touching pose.

"We will work to keep them together," said Elena Menotti, the archaeologist who led the dig. "Removing the turf in one piece will preserve the position and allow us to collect more data on the burial."

The burial was unearthed on the outskirts of Mantua during construction work. The site is 25 miles south of Verona, the city where Shakespeare set the story of "Romeo and Juliet," and the discovery fueled musings in the media about prehistoric love.

Menotti also has said there is little doubt the couple's pose was born of a deep love, but warned it could be impossible to determine the exact nature of their relationship and how they died.

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