ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE

In 2007, the Italian archaeologist Elena Maria Menotti, leading an excavation in a Neolithic tomb of necropolis (S. Giorgio, Mantua, N. Italy) / dated to 5,000 - 4,000 B.C.E., discovered this pair of skeletons (along with an arrowhead and tools), a pair and a woman no older than 20 years and approximately 5'2'' in height. After being removed from the ground intact were sent to Museo Civici (Como) for further research. Later on, they had been exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Mantua, looking for their permanent home. The skeletons do not show signs of violent death, thus few hypotheses have been made (e.g. they died together holding each other in a freezing night; they had been put together after their death).

"Valdaro Lovers"
  Shakespeare's ROMEO AND JULIET was set in nearby Verona, and Mantua was the city
where Romeo was exiled and told that his beloved was dead.
The composer Giuseppe Verdi had also chosen Mantua for his story
on star-crossed love and death in his opera RIGOLETTO



This Mesolithic stone figurine was found by a Bedouin in the Wadi Khareitoun and it was initially sold to the French Fathers  at Bethlehem. Later on, in 1933, the French consul and prehistorian Rene Neuville, who excavated in the cave of Ain Sakhri, attributed it to the Natufian period thinking that it was used domestically. Modern archaeologists do not doubt about its source area, they can not though prove that it had been found in the specific cave. Simple phallic carvings are also well known from other Natufian sites, but this couple is unique. The Mesolithic artist used the natural shape of a calcite cobble to represent the outline of two figures in coitus as a phallic image. Its height is 102 mm and it is dated to the early Natufian, ca 10,000 - 9,000 BCE. The English artist Marc Quinn first noted that the figure looks different depending on viewer's perspective.

The item had been purchased by Sotheby's after N.Y. Neuville's death, and, in 1958, by the British Museum at auction from the sale of the estate of  N.Y. Neuville.
It is hold in the British Museum (Gallery 69a)
Between July 14, 2005 and April 27, 2006 was exhibited in the Israel Museum (Jerusalem). 
It was also listed in the BBC Radio 4 Series- part 7 History of the World in 100 Objects (January 26, 2010).
It is comparable with The Kiss of Constantin Brancusi (Sculptural Series 1916) - Philadelphia Museum of Art


Around 3,800 B.C.E., a couple had been buried near a Neolithic house at Ksagounaki (adjacent to famous Alepotrypa Cave), a rocky promontory or cliff on Diros Bay, Southern Greece. Thousand years later, during the excavation season of AD 2011, an archaeological team surveyed the area discovering the interwined corpses of a male and a female who were literally "spooning".The scientists who study the material are Michael Galaty - head of Mississippi State University Anthropology & Middle Eastern Department, William A. Parkinson - Chicago Field Museum of Natural History, Daniel J. Pullen - Florida State University, Anastasia Papathanasiou - Ephorate for Speleology and Paleoanthropology in Athens, Panagiotis Karkanas - ASCSA, and others.

Image courtesy of Mississippi University. "Archaeologists Uncover Ancient 'Spooning' Couple in Greece". ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 April 2015.
See also: love in the prehistoric era




Russian archaeologist Dr Dmitry Kichigin had made an extraordinary discovery during excavation near Lake Baikal in summer 2016. The site was at a cape of Maloe More, a strait separating the mainland from Olkhon island in some 260 km to north-east of Irkutsk. The Bronze Age Burial dated to ca 5,000 - 4,500 B.C.E. and it was situated in a sacred burial place since Neolithic Period that overlooked the lake, the oldest and deepest of the world. The couple was a male and a female lying on their backs, heading west and holding hand in hand. The burial items were also impressive. Researchers attribute the burial to the Bronze Age Glazkov Culture.

Image Credit: The Siberian Times and Dmitri Kichigin. 
Research team: Dr Dmitri Kichigan - Irkutsk National Research Technical University &
Yuliana Yemelyanova - Laboratory of Archeology, Paleoecology, and Life Support Systems of the Peoples of North Asia


The necropolis close to the confluence of the rivers Tartus and om (Novosibirsk, Siberia) was hidding a different kind of archaeological treasure. The graves near Staryi tartas village, dated to ca 17th to 14th centuries B.C.E., included couples buried together facing each other, even with their hands clasped together. This was an archaeological fairytale that inspired researchers, reminding them of Dylan Thomas classic poem. The couples were buried with care. The researchers classify the finds to the Andronovo Culture and diversify these people (Caucasians) from native Siberians. There was a detailing cooperation between the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science in Novosibirsk and the the Eurasia-Department of the German Archaeological Institute.On the other hand,
Professor Lev Klein of St Petersburg State University proposed that deeksha rituals (ritual sexual act in the grave as a 'second birth') of the ancient Indian sub-continent at the pre-Vedic time when the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, were composed had influenced those burials. Thus, the relatives of the deceased often sought to reproduce the 'deeksha' posthumously, by sacrificing a woman or a girl (or a few), and simulating sexual intercourse in the grave.


Image credits: Vyacheslav Molodin (chief of the Tartas-1 archeological expedition) & Lilya Kobeleva (archaeologist and researcher). Credits also to: The Siberian Times (2013), Eastern Marvels Website and Vasiliy Labetskiy



In 1973, during the excavation of the archaeological site of Hasanlu Tepe (Solduz Valley,  Azarbaijan Province, Nortwestern Iran), near the southern shore of lake Urmia, two skeletons of a man and a woman had been found in a bin, no other items found with them, only one stone slab under the head of the skeleton on the left hand side (SK335). The have been dated back to 800 B.C.E. The excavations were carried out by the University of Pennsylvania Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York, and the Archaeological Service of Iran from 1956 to 1977 under the general direction of Robert H. Dyson, Jr. 

Image credit: Penn Museum #97482. During the Hasanlu Period IVb (around 800 B.C.E.), the famous citadel was sacked and burned, turning into a veritable Pompeii of the Iron Age Near East.




In the local Archaeological Museum of Kourion / Latin Curium (Episkopi Village, Limassol district, Southwestern coast of Cyprus), the skeletal remains of inhabitants who lost violently their lives are exhibited. The area had been excavated in 1934 by the American archaeologist J.F. Daniel. Decades later, The American classical archaeologist David Soren tells us about the 7 members of the family who found a tragic death sometime around dawn in July 21, 365 C.E. According to him and to his team who performed detailed research along the area (1984-1987), 500 people had died only at Kourion. The members of that tragic family who was unearth by the Portuguese archaeology student Caterina Dias, have been found in situ in a Roman house of the city. They lived in an Early Christian family (a copper ring with the symbol of Christ was found next to the tragic father who tried fiercely to prtect her wife and child). In the family bedroom, a woman of about 19-year of age seems to being clutched a small child of 18 months in her chest, with her arms around its head in order to protect it. But, unfortunately, her neck had been broken by falling plaster and stones. His 28-year-old housband, tried to shield his family, by stretching his left arm across her to hold the child's back and putting his left leg up over hers. But his skull and spinal column were crushed by 500-pound blocks found on top of him. The catastrophic event was of paramount importance, equal to the vocanic explosion of Vesuvius in 79 C.E. Many ancient towns in Sicily, Greece, Libya, Egypt and Cyprus were destroyed and thousands of people died not only due to the earthquakes' shocks, but to the tsunamis following the seismic tremors. The event - with an estimated magnitude of 8+ R- the epicenter of which only 30 miles southwest of the city under the Mediterranean sea, was part of the Early Byzantine Tectonic Paroxysm (EBTP: mid-4th to the mid-6th centuries C.E.).

Image credits: Department of Antiquities, Cyprus; National Geographic


In 2006, during construction works in Modena (Emilia-Romagna, Italy), two skeletons of a couple holding hands were found. The excavator Licia Diamanti reported that they had been found in the 11-tomb necropolis at the site. The researchers estimated that the two people, probably the inhabitants of a farm,  were buried at the same time, dating the burial to the 5th - 6th centuries C.E. Donato Labate - director of the excavation - describes the position of the skeletons, saying that they were initially buried facing each other but man's head rolled after death, due to several floods from the nearby river Tiepido.The anthropologists Giorgio Gruppioni - University of Bologna, and Kristina Killgrove - University of North Carolina were also involved in the investigation. The beloving couple may have been died during a ravaging epidemic of that time, almost simultanuously.

Image credit: Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell'Emilia-Romagna


In 2013, the archaeologists who were excavating the courtyard of a former Dominican Monastery in Cluj-Napoca (Romania) found a double grave burial dated back to Medieval times (ca 1450 C.E.). Adrian Rusu - The Cluj-Napoca Institute of Archaeology and History of Art - explains that the couple holding hands was a rare find for that period. The man was badly injured and the broken hip was probably the cause of his death. The woman was young and healthy and was died at the same time. Along with them a child's skeleton had been found, but the researchers think that it is  irrelevant to the couple.

 The Romanian Couple 


In 2013, French archaeologists who were excavating in the Jacobins convent chapel in the western city of Rennes (France) discovered a hermetically sealed lead coffin in a stone tomb, along with other four lead coffins dated to the 17th century C.E. and 800 graves containing also skeletons. After opening the fifth coffin in 2014, they faced the nearly  intact fully dressed body of Louise de Quengo, Lady of Brefeillac, a noblewoman from Brittany, who died in her late 60's in 1656. The French archaeologist Rozenn Colleter - Institute National de Recherches Archaeologiques Préventive - speaks of a beautiful and astonishing find that led researchers to identify the corpse. A pendant, with inscriptions, in the form of heart that contained the heart of her husband, Toussaint de Perrien, Knight of Brefeillac, who had died in August 30, 1649! It is noteworthy that French nobles used to donate their organs to either a loved one or to a religious institution.

 The French Noble Couple
Image credit: Reuters, Science and Health, December 02, 2015


 

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