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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007, 15:04 GMT
Italy mystery of prehistoric hug
Embracing skeletons
The skeletons' bones were discovered interlaced
Archaeologists in Italy have unearthed two skeletons thought to be 5,000 to 6,000 years old, locked in an embrace.

The pair from the Neolithic period were discovered outside Mantua, about 40km (25 miles) south of Verona.

The pair, almost certainly a man and a woman, are thought to have died young as their teeth were mostly intact, said chief archaeologist Elena Menotti.

The burial site was discovered on Monday during construction work for a factory building.

Hugging

"It's an extraordinary case," said Ms Menotti. "There has not been a double burial found in the Neolithic period, much less two people hugging - and they really are hugging," she told Reuters news agency.

Flint tools, including arrowheads and a knife, were also found alongside the couple.

Scientists will now study the skeletons and artefacts to work out how and when the two people died, Ms Menotti said.

"I must say that when we discovered it, we all became very excited," she said.

"I've been doing this job for 25 years. I've done digs at Pompeii, all the famous sites, but I've never been so moved because this is the discovery of something special," she said.


SEE ALSO
Stonehenge builders' houses found
30 Jan 07 |  Science/Nature
Neolithic man 'had violent history'
11 May 06 |  Northern Ireland

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