London: Archaeologists claim to have unearthed in Italy the skeletons of a pair of Roman lovers buried together holding hands.
An excavation team, led by Donato Labate, says the pair of skeletons, discovered inside the walls in Modena palace, are believed to have been buried together 1,500 years ago in a joint tomb, indicating some sort of nobility towards the dying days of the Roman empire.
It is believed the pair were buried at the same time between the 5th and 6th century AD.
"We believe that they were originally buried with their faces staring into each other. The position of the man's vertebrae suggests that his head rolled after death.
"The two couples are separated in time by five millennia, and both evoke an uplifting tenderness. I have been involved in many digs, but I've never felt so moved," Labate said.
The archeological dig revealed three layers of scientific interest. The couple were found on the middle layer among a total of 11 burials at a depth of 10 feet, says the team.
The archeologists believe the couple was not particularly rich due to the simple nature of the tombs they were buried in and think they may have lived on a farm.
It is thought the man's head would have been looking at the woman's when they were buried. But the area they were buried in was subject to several floods from the river Tiepido which may have caused the man's skull to roll away from the female.
The poorly preserved skeletons will now be studied by Giorgio Gruppioni, an anthropologist at the University of Bologna. He will attempt to establish the couple's age, relationship and cause of death.