human skull and bones in dirt

Ancient Bronze Age Couple Found in Loving Embrace 3000 Years After Burial

A couple from the Bronze Age was found in a loving embrace in a 3,000-year-old grave in Ukraine. Archeologists have differing theories on how the man and woman ended up in this position. Autopsy experts state it would have been impossible to position the woman around the man if she had already passed away. Therefore, they claim the woman was alive when she hugged her deceased husband and chose to be buried with him, perhaps drinking poison before she entered the grave.

Archeologists Found Couple Embracing in Ancient Grave

The couple’s grave was discovered in 2018 near Petrykiv village in western Ukraine. They seem to be from the prehistoric Vysotskaya or Wysocko culture. Afterward, Professor Mykola Bandrivsky who had studied the cultural “loving couple burials” stated, “It is a unique burial, a man and a woman lying there, hugging each other tight. Both faces were gazing at each other, their foreheads were touching. 

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“The woman was lying on her back, with her right arm she was tenderly hugging the man, her wrist lying on his right shoulder. The legs of the woman were bent at the knees — lying on the top of the men’s stretched legs. Both the dead humans were clad in bronze decorations, and near the heads was placed some pottery items — a bowl, a jar, and three bailers.[1]

Image Credit: Australscope

The ancient culture is famous for burials that exhibited a certain “tenderness,” according to Bandrivsky who is the director of the Transcarpathian branch of the Rescue Archaeological Service of the Institute of Archeology of Ukraine. But while this tenderness is often displayed in other graves, this burial is more unique. Meanwhile, other cases involve “a man holding the hands of a woman, the lips of a man touching the forehead of a woman, or  arms of both dead people hugging each other”. But in this case, the woman fully embraced the man who seemed to be in a limp position. 

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“She preferred to pass away with her husband”

“From our point of view, this woman did it voluntarily,” said Bandrosky. “Maybe, the woman did not want to live with some other man, and get used to some new way of life. So she preferred to pass away with her husband. We suppose such a decision was dictated only by her own desire, and her attempt to stay with her beloved one.” He added, “She may, for example, have drunk a chalice of poison to make joining her husband easy and painless.”

In the Vysotskaya Culture, marriage had clearly defined roles for the husbands and wives. Back then, one of their beliefs stated that the wife preferred to die with her husband. “People in the late Bronze Age believed in eternal life of the human soul,” said the archeologist. “It is interesting that in other parts of Europe dead men and women in couple burials were laid next to each other. But in Vysotskaya culture the couples in double graves were arranged in a way to demonstrate the tenderness and greatest sympathy towards each other.” [2]

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More Ancient Couples Found Buried Together All Over the World

This is far from the only couple found buried in loving poses. One almost 6,000-year-old Neolithic couple was found in Greece, holding each other tightly, surrounded by broken arrowheads. Another medieval pair was buried holding hands with their heads together in Romania. They’ve been dubbed “Romeo and Juliet”. Interestingly, the man seemed to die from a broken chest while the woman was whole. Plus, there are dozens of graves from the Bronze Age from the Andronovo culture in Siberia where the man and woman hold hands. Some archeologists theorize the wives were killed when their husbands died to accompany them to the afterlife. 

One couple found buried in northern Azerbaijan became noteworthy for their positioning. For about 1,800 years, the pair lay on their sides facing each other, as the man clasped the woman’s cheek. Jeyhun Eminli, a researcher with the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences who discovered this grave, noted, “Neither body was moved to make room for the other later. They were put in the grave together. They probably died at the same time.[3]

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First Embracing Couple Found Buried in China

In June 2020, researchers found the first couple buried in an embrace in China. Now, couple burials are not uncommon. But this one, over 1,500 years old, was noteworthy because of their clearly loving embrace. The man died with injuries, like a broken arm, bone spurs on his right leg, and a partially missing finger. Meanwhile, the woman looked fairly healthy. The researchers speculate that one of the partners had died first and the other sacrificed themselves to be buried together. It was most likely the woman, since she was healthier than her husband. “The [burial] message was clear — husband and wife lied together, embracing each other for eternal love during the afterlife,” the researchers wrote in the study. [4]

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Sources

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  1. “Couple found in loving embrace 3000 years after burial.Yahoo News Australia. July 18, 2018
  2. “The wife who made the ultimate sacrifice for a 3,000-year loving embrace: Man and woman found together in Ukrainian grave after she was buried ALIVE with her dead husband.Daily Mail. Will Stewart. July 13, 2018
  3. Visiting a Couple Locked in an 1,800-Year-Old Embrace.National Geographic. Paul Salopek. February 13, 2016
  4. “1,500-year-old burial in China holds lovers locked in eternal embrace.Live Science. Laura Geggel. August 24, 2021
Sarah Biren
Freelance Writer
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender.
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