Thousands of years ago, sometime between the 4th and 6th century AD, two people were buried together in a cemetery in northern Italy. They were placed in their grave side-by-side and holding hands. Their skeletons were uncovered by archeologists in 2009, and dubbed the “Lovers of Modena,” because of the position they were found in and their proximity to the town of Modena.
But, as The Guardian reports, their actual sex was not determined, because they were too poorly preserved. Then this year, a new technique that tests the protein in tooth enamel revealed that they were both men. Suddenly, the Lovers of Modena are being called everything but lovers.
The BBC reports that study author Federico Lugli told Italy’s Rai news site that the pair could be “siblings, cousins or soldiers who died together in battle.”
*stares straight into the camera* pic.twitter.com/BHOLyQOYFL
— Simone Webb (@SimoneWebbUCL) September 12, 2019
“There are currently no other examples of this type,” Federico Lugli told Rai News. Many tombs have been found in the past with couples holding hands, but in all cases there was a man and a woman. What might have been the bond between the two individuals in the burial in Modena remains a mystery.”
Yes! So mysterious! What could be happening!
It’s. It’s in the goddamn name pic.twitter.com/Lt5Ob7lKtR
— Rawnaeris (@rawnaeris) September 12, 2019
“Yeah we’re gonna die together, Pontius, but remember. No homo.”
— C.Q. Cumber Appreciation Hours (@HanyuuHiiragi) September 12, 2019
WHY WOULD TWO PILES OF MENBONES BE HOLDING HANDS WE MAY NEVER KNOW FOR SURE pic.twitter.com/ndBi2d3gcG
— Jamie Lawson (@drlawson) September 12, 2019
As absurd as it may seem to us that the lovers of Modena suddenly couldn’t be lovers, even though they’re buried exactly like heterosexual lovers would be, there is an explanation. Sort of.
Ah yes, the two here, much like Achilles and Patroclus, were Just Really Good Buddies. Because homosexuality clearly didnt exist until the modern day ?
— Logan (@Nox_your_sox) September 12, 2019
Some people are saying that researchers believe that homosexual relationships were prohibited during the era that these skeletons were supposedly buried in.
The hypothesis is based on the fact that this is a proper burial that was conducted by their kins and/or neighbourhood. Since the law prohibit homosexuals, it is less logical to conclude that people at that time would bury a pair of gays celebrating their relationship
— Rangga (@ranggawdytm) September 13, 2019
But people aren’t necessarily so logical when it comes to both love and death. Whoever buried these two obviously had some feelings of tenderness towards them and their relationship, whatever it was. Many people pointed out that cultural restrictions don’t always dictate what people will do in the end:
Exactly my thought… I find it more plausible that a family might do this in secret out of respect than almost any other scenario.
— citizen mom (@MomCitizen) September 13, 2019
We will likely never know what exactly was going on between this pair before their untimely death, but we can guess that they loved each other from the way they were laid to rest. And love is love is love!