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The Hasanlu Lovers and Their 2,800-Year-Old Kiss

Teppe Hasanlu is an area located in northwest Iran. It is also a very famous archaeological site of an ancient city.

Hasanlu was excavated over 10 seasons from 1956 and 1974 by a team from the University Museum, University of Pennsylvania and the Metropolitan Museum of New York. This couple was unearthed in 1972.

Many valuable artifact were found, including this iconic pair of skeletons, which many are familiar with since the excavation.


Despite the familiarity of this image, many people don’t know the history behind the couple.

The area had been burned out after a military attack. People from both fighting sides were killed in a fast spreading fire that overtook the entire town.

The pair of skeletons most probably died of asphyxiation from the fire. They were found in a bin, where they’d probably been hiding from soldiers.

People see this pair as a symbol of eternal love but it’s not exactly certain what the relationship between the pair was. Some scientists say that both were men, which means that there was either a family connection or a homosexual relationship. Others, including the original archaeologist who found them, say they are males and female.

University of Pennsylvania archaeologist Robert Dyson wrote:

“Lying in the bottom of the bin were two human skeletons, a male and a female. The male had one of its arms under the shoulder of the female, while the female was looking into the face of the male and reaching out with one hand to touch his lips. Both were young adults. Neither showed any evidence of injury; there were no obvious cuts or broken bones. There were no objects with the skeletons, but under the female’s head was a stone slab. The other contents of the bin consisted of broken pieces of plaster, charcoal, and small pieces of burned brick but nothing heavy enough to crush the bones.”

What looks like a head wound on the skull to the right is actually damage done by excavators.

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