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Archaeologists Discover Remains of Romanian "Romeo and Juliet" Buried Together Holding Hands

Update Date: Apr 25, 2013 01:49 PM EDT

While excavating the burials at the site of a monastery, Archaeologists in Romania have discovered the skeletons of what appears to be two lovers holding hands. Because double burials were so rare during the Middle Ages, the couple has been dubbed "Romeo and Juliet".

According to Romania Insider, the burial was found when archaeologists were investigating a Dominican monastery in Cluj, Romania. Now a music school, the researchers have found several graves in what would have been the courtyard, the Huffington Post reports. Because the graveyard was secularized in 1550, the archaeologists believe that the pair would have needed to buried between then and 1450, when the monastery was founded.

As lead archaeologist Adrian Rusu describes, the bodies likely belong "a young couple of around 30 years of age, a man and a woman buried together, facing each other and holding hands. It's a strange case, a sort of Romeo and Juliet. The man appears to have died in an accident, as the sternum was broken by a blow from a blunt object and the woman buried with him could have had a heart attack on hearing the news, there isn't really any other explanation for her death."

According to the Daily Mail, the couple is not believed to have committed suicide. Doing so would have made them ineligible for the prime spot inside the monastery.

The History Blog reports that the couple would likely have been wealthy, or from wealthy families, in order to have been buried in such a fashion.

The pair's deaths would have occurred 50 to 150 years before William Shakespeare's famous play was written, but the story on which the drama was based had circulated in various cultures before he put it to paper.

The graves were discovered because the archaeological team, from the Institute of Archaeology and Art History in Cluj-Napoca, is in the process of restoring the monastery.

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