Found in the Alepotrypa, or foxhole, one of the Diros caves in southern Greece, the prehistoric remains were positioned curled into the fetal position, as if spooning each other. The grave also contained broken arrowheads.
Although the pair was originally found in 2014 by a team of archaeologists and speleologists led by George Papathanassopoulos, the Greek Ministry of Culture announced the results of DNA and radio carbon tests on Thursday, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Couple Held Hands for 1,500 Years
The skeletons were dated to 3800 B.C. and DNA analysis confirmed the remains belong to a man and a woman.
“Double burials in embrace are extremely rare,” the ministry said. “The skeletons of Diros represent one of the oldest, if not the oldest, found to this date,” it added.
Discovered in 1958, the Alepotrypa Cave was used between 6000 and 3200 B.C. and served as both a settlement and a cemetery.
Around 3200 B.C., the entrance collapsed because of a severe earthquake, burying the cave inhabitants alive.
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Excavations in recent years have yielded the remains of adults, children and even embryos.
The archaeologists also discovered a 13-foot wide crypt, paved with a unique pebble floor. The burial contained dozens of skeletons, along with pottery, beads and a dagger.
The researchers have been so far unable to establish the cause of death of the 5,800-year-old couple. But the fact that they were buried together in such a position suggests they possibly died at the same time.
Image: The 5,800-year-old couple locked in embrace. Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture.