New research has revealed that the pair who perished in each other’s arms as Mount Vesuvius erupted and wiped out the Roman city of Pompeii may have been gay lovers.
Ever since the bodies were unearthed in the House of the Cryptoporticus during excavations at the World Heritage site in the early 20th century, they were thought to be two women.
But tests on their teeth and bones have revealed that the victims were in fact both male, 18 and 20 years old when they were killed, and they were not related.
“Pompeii never ceases to amaze,” Massimo Osanna, director-general of the world-famous archaeological site, told the Telegraph.
“We always imagined that it was an embrace between women. But a CAT scan and DNA have revealed that they are men.
“You can’t say for sure that the two were lovers. But considering their position, you can make that hypothesis. It is difficult to say with certainty.”
Professor Stefano Vanacore, head of the Pompeii research team, said it would never be known for sure what the relationship was between the two men.
“When this discovery was made, that they were not two young girls,” he said, “some scholars suggested there could have been an emotional connection between the pair.
“But we are talking about hypotheses that can never be verified.
“What is certain is that the two parties were not relatives, neither brothers, nor a father and son.”
Pompeii was buried in metres of ash and pumice after the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.