Mon. Feb 24th, 2020

The ‘Modena lovers’ were two men | Science

The modena lovers have represented for years the myth of eternal love: two skeletons buried together, holding hands, and with one of them with their heads turned towards the other, united for eternity. Until now, they were supposed to be a man and a woman. But it has been discovered that the two skeletons, buried 1,600 years ago and discovered In 2009 in the city of Modena (Italy), they belong to two men about thirty years of age. Researchers at the University of Bologna have revealed in a study the truth about such a romantic story thanks to the composition of tooth enamel.

The researchers suggest that the burial was performed in this way to illustrate a union between two men who died together in the war

How does the study count? published in the magazine Scientific Reports, the remains were destroyed by the passage of time. “We could not analyze the skulls or the hips, of the wear that there was; that could have helped us, since the way of the bones is different between a man and a woman”, Explains Federico Luigi, one of the authors of the report. This researcher at the University of Bologna explains that, In the ten years that have passed since the discovery, they have tried to perform all kinds of analyzes, but none allowed them to confirm the sex of the skeletons. Therefore, the rumor of heterosexual eternal love continued to spread throughout the world. “Two years ago, English researchers discovered that a protein present in tooth enamel allowed to identify the sex of the deceased. We tried it with the lovers, and it worked, ”says the Italian expert.

This protein in question is amelogenin and is divided, like chromosomes, into X and Y. AMELX is found in the dental tissue of both men and women, but the so-called AMELY, only in men. The modena lovers They had an enamel with the same composition. To verify the discovery, the researchers repeated the analysis with 12 teeth of skeletons from the same place and from other nearby cemeteries and two “modern” ones, as they qualified them in the study. And everything fit.

The skeletons were buried in a cemetery with other 11 people. Some of the buried show marks of trauma that can be related to a violent death during a war, the study explains. The researchers suggest that the burial was performed in this way to illustrate a union between two men who died together in the war or who were from the same family and therefore shared a grave. However, the question remains why they shake hands. Luigi doesn't want to speculate on what their relationship was. "We cannot say that they had a romantic relationship, because we know that in Italy, in late Antiquity, being homosexual was a crime and nobody, in their right mind, would have shown this type of relationship even if it was in a grave," explains the Italian .

The researchers insisted on confirming the sex of the deceased when there were no debates or doubts involved. “Why haven't we let it be? It is not a usual burial. There are very, very few (burials of this type) (all men and women or relatives, according to the study list). It is extraordinary, and much more interesting to discover that they are two men. It allows us to investigate the ideologies of our ancestors and above all, from a social point of view, discover how this is contemplated now, ”concludes Luigi.

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