5,000-Year-Old Pair Found 'Together' in Embrace

Two 5,000-year-old skeletons, locked in an embrace, are found near Verona, Italy, where Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet. It's a romantic moment that calls for a song from Frankie Laine, lost to us this week at age 93.

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And a last note from the news this hour, on this weekend before that commercial contrivance of a holiday that nevertheless focuses our mind on love; or maybe it should be a little more often anyway. This week a couple of skeletons were found 25 miles south of Verona, Italy, the village where William Shakespeare set "Romeo and Juliet." And the skeletons were a couple. They were found locked in an embrace they have been holding for about 5,000 years, since the Neolithic period. The age of their teeth suggests that the two were teenagers like Juliet and her Romeo. Their pose and other factors indicate that they were buried at the same time. Elena Menotti, an archaeologist with a melodic name, who led the dig that discovered the couple, says it was a very emotional discovery. From thousands of years ago we feel the strength of this love. Yes, we must call it love.

Now, hard science may yet uncover a more mundane explanation, but this week it seems permissible to let romantic imagination play with the image of the young couple who've been enfolded for the ages in perpetual love. Were they doomed lovers? Were they killed at the same time by some plague or poison and buried together by people who knew of their love and wanted to honor it or didn't want them to be lonely?

Archaeologist must surely, if respectfully, separate the couple to run the test that may tell them the story. But when that's done, it's nice to think that hard-headed scientists will be soft-hearted enough to put the young lovers back into each other's arms, where they've been for so long, where they belong, always to each other. As Shakespeare's Romeo said, eyes look your last, arms take your last embrace, and lips, oh you the doors of breathe, seal with a righteous kiss.

(Soundbite of song, "We'll Be Together Again")

Mr. FRANKIE LANE (Singer): (Singing) Here in our moment of darkness remember the sun has shone. Laugh and the world will laugh with you. Cry and you'll cry alone. No tears, no fears, remember there's always tomorrow. So what if we have to part, we'll be together again. Your kiss, your smile are memories I'll treasure forever. So try thinking with your heart and we'll be together again.

SIMON: Frankie Lane, who died this week at the age of 93.

(Soundbite of song, "We'll Be Together Again")

Mr. LANE: (Singing) Times when I know you'll be lonesome. Times when I know you'll be sad. Don't let temptation surround you. Don't let the blues make you bad. Some day, some way, we both have a lifetime before us for parting is not goodbye. We'll be together again. We will be together again.

SIMON: Nice way to look ahead to Valentine's Day. This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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