The well-preserved skeletons were discovered facing each other, their arms entwined, during excavation work in an industrial zone of the northern city of Mantua.
"We found these two individuals entwined in a neolithic burial chamber," the lead archeologist Elena Menotti told AFP.
"We believe them to be a man and a woman, DNA tests should be able to clear that up in a few months. From first observations, they were young because their dentition is complete and shows little signs of wear," she said.
"Everybody obviously wants to know why they were buried in an embrace like that. I think that it's a sign of a great love which has transcended time.
"They obviously had strong feelings for each other," she said.
Menotti said the find was unlikely to be an example of widow sacrifice, a practice whereby women were sometimes buried along with the remains of their naturally-deceased husband.
"In such 'widow sacrifices' the women is buried alongside her husband and not in his arms."
Monday, February 12, 2007
This is such a beautiful find of two Stone-Age lovers in one final, eternal embrace. "A pair of human skeletons lie entwined at an Neolithic archaeological dig site near Mantova, Italy, in a photo released February 6, 2007. In a Valentines Day gift to the country, scientists said they are determined to jointly remove and preserve the remains of the couple buried 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, their arms still wrapped around each other in an enduring embrace." (Enrico Pajello/Handout/Reuters)