When they were discovered, in 2009, during excavations in a necropolis of Modena some 1,500 years ago (century IV-VI), in the region of Emilia-Romagna, in the north of Italy, they immediately called the "lovers of Modena". It was a couple buried in the same tomb , caught by the hand, what did you think of a man and a woman. Now a new study conducted by researchers from the Universities of Bologna and Modena belies this first hypothesis.
"lovers of Modena" there were two men, perhaps brothers, partner or soldiers. In the analysis , published by "Scientific Reports", researchers have used a technique that allows to determine the sex of an individual thanks to particular proteins in the tooth enamel .
The fact that you were able to confirm that they were two men made for investigators to consider even more particular and mysterious this tomb, , which since 2014 is located in the archaeological Museum of ethnology of Modena. "Currently there are no known other graves of this type," explained Federico Lugli, a researcher from the University of Bologna and first author of the study. "In the past –adds - were found several tombs with couples of individuals caught by hand, but in all cases it was a man and a woman. For the moment, it is a mystery what type of connection may have the two individuals ".Method revolutionary
When they were discovered, the skeletons were in a very bad conditions of conservation , to the point that with the traditional methods of analysis of the bones was not attributed with any certainty the sex of the two individuals. Neither the genetic analysis results were definitive in that aspect.
hence, the researchers decided to use a new technique based on the analysis of the tooth enamel, where they can be found two particular proteins : Amelx, present in individuals of both sexes, and Amely , which is present only in individuals male .
Using this technique, the researchers analyzed dental remains of the two "lovers of Modena" along with the other 14 individuals selections as control samples, thus demonstrating that the two skeletons found in the necropolis of Modena are of the male sex. "The success of the method of analysis that we have used represents a revolution for this type of studies," says Antonino Vazzana, a researcher from the university of Bologna, one of the authors of the study.Mystery of the meaning of the grave
Now opens up another question: What is the meaning of this burial? Have appeared tombs with two people picked by the hand or clamped in various parts of the world, but they were composed by an individual of sex male and female sex .
"The burial of two men caught by the hand was not certainly be a common practice in that period, between centuries IV-VI", explains Federico Lugli. “We believe that this choice indicates a particular relationship between the two individuals, we don't know what type it was”.
Among the various scenarios that are shuffled, the more remote is the question of two lovers . "In that time period, it is unlikely that a homosexual love could be recognized in a manner so evident by the people who prepared the grave," says Lugli. "Taking into account -he adds - that two individuals have a similar age, they could be relatives, for example, brothers or cousins. Or dead soldiers together in battle: The necropolis that have been found could be a cemetery for the fallen in war".Updated Date: 13 September 2019, 13:01