The romantic side of archaeology: the timeless kiss that has lasted 2800 years

Margie Jones

The 2,800-year-old Hasanlu Lovers were found in a bin in Iran. The two skeletons buried in ground appear to kiss each other. Other than the gender dispute, historians are not sure why they came to be in the bin – perhaps they were hiding during the final sacking of Hasanlu.

2800-year-long kiss, a tragic epilogue and probably a bloody death. But they are there, always there, immobilized in an attitude that gives rise to romantic and pleasant thoughts, makes a smile of tenderness sketch and above all intrigues.

The “Hasanlu Lovers” bring with them an aura of mystery and make us hope that love is something that goes beyond mere definition. But who are Hasanlu’s lovers actually? What is their story?

It is difficult to know precisely, space can only be given to the imagination. What is certain is that bisome burials (containing the remains of two people) of this type are not very frequent. These are most often due to wars or natural disasters. The fact is that the two skeletons of Hasamlu became “famous” not only because they were two, but because they were found in a unique position: one of the two tending to give kind of kiss to the other. And so they would find death.

Who they are and where Hasanlu’s lovers were found


“Lying on the bottom were two human skeletons, a male and a female. The male had an arm under the female’s shoulder, while the female was looking for the male’s face and trying to reach him to touch his lips. Both young adults show no evidence of injury; there were no obvious cuts or broken bones. There were no objects with skeletons, but under the female head there was a stone slab. The other contents consist of broken pieces of plaster, coal and small pieces of burnt bricks, but nothing that suggests that the two have been crushed”

So writes Robert Dyson, an archaeologist from the University of Pennsylvania who discovered the mythical couple back in 1972.

The discovery took place in an archaeological site in the north-west of Iran, called Teppe Hasanlu, in an area that has traces of settlements since the 6th millennium BC.

A team of researchers from the University MuseumUniversity of Pennsylvania and the Metropolitan Museum of New York excavated the site several times, a dozen, from 1956 to 1974. During the excavation, some evidence was collected that testified to the destruction of the area of Hasanlu because of a fire that occurred in 800 BC

The eternal kiss of Hasanlu lovers, the mystery of sex

It seems so romantic and in some of us it can awaken tender images, yet the passionate name of “Hasanlu lovers” (now exhibited at the Penn Museum, the Museum of archaeology and anthropology of the University of Pennsylvania) is nothing but an image of two skeletons showing love in a kiss that we can define “eternal”.

According to the archaeologists’ reconstructions, it would be the remains of a couple fleeing their burning village, who took refuge in a hole, inside which they found death by asphyxiation. The photo shows the presence of a hole in the skull of one of the two skeletons, but this is not due to trauma or accidents, but only to the operations carried out during excavations. The left skeleton would seem to belong to an individual who must have been around 30 or 35 at the time of death, while the right one, approximately 19-22 years old. Their height turns out to be just over a meter and a half.

From the first research on the remains, it was hypothesized that the bones could date back to 6000 years ago, but later the radiocarbon examination carried out by the University of Pennsylvania has denied this supposition. The two allegedly lived 2800 years ago, so around 800 BC In any case, all the bone material found in Hasanlu is still being studied today and dozens are scholars and students from all over the world who come to the Penn Museum to study the collection.

People see this couple as a symbol of eternal love, but it is not exactly certain what the relationship was between the two deceased. One is clearly male, while the identity of the other seems less defined. Some anthropologists claim that both remains belonged to men, which would suggest that there was either a family connection or a homosexual relationship between the two. Others, including the discoverer Robert Dyson, support the hypothesis that it is a couple made up of two indivisuals, male and female.

One thing is certain: the two lovers of Hasanlu are certainly one of the most representative symbols of romantic love unearthed archaeologically to this day.

Related posts