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Embracing figures at Pompeii could have been gay lovers

PompeiiVisitors to the ancient Roman city of Pompeii have for many years been able to see some of the most iconic images conveying the human dimension of one of the world’s worst natural disasters that still resonates 2,000 years later.

The technique of pouring plaster in the voids left in the eruption’s debris by the eruption victims’ bodies has created many poignant and dramatic ‘sculptures’, capturing the exact moment many Pompeiians died.

In particular two bodies were found wrapped in a poignant embrace in their final moments as they were killed by the pyroclastic cloud and then covered beneath layers of ash when Mount Vesuvius violently erupted in 79 A.D.

Since their discovery the bodies were dubbed “The Two Maidens” but in a startling discovery this week scientists studying the two bodies with new advanced techniques discovered that the pair were actually male - raising speculation that they may have been gay lovers.

"Pompeii never ceases to amaze," said Massimo Osanna, director-general of the world-famous archaeological site.

The bodies were discovered in the House of the Cryptoporticus during excavations at the World Heritage site. One of the two bodies is lying at a right angle to the other and seen with his head resting on the other’s chest in search of comfort and perhaps protection.

Extensive anthropological and DNA tests of the duo’s bones and teeth have revealed that one of the them was a young man aged about 18 years of age while the second was probably an adult male aged about 20. We also know that they were not related, i.e. they were not brothers.

We will never know the true story, but the prospect that these two unlucky young men might have been lovers is a very fascinating idea.