Friday 20 February 2015

The Oldest Embrace in the world

The remains of a couple in their twenties, in a tight embrace, have been found in the cave in Diros, Mani, in the Peloponnese in Greece. 'There is no doubt that it's an embrace', said Dr George Papathanasopoulos, the archaeologist in charge of the excavations. 'One arm is under the body while the other is above, and their legs are intertwined'. The couple are believed to have been buried together. Analysis has revealed that the bones date back to around 3,800 BC.

The cavern is known as Alepotrypa (Foxhole) and was found in the 1950s. During the 1970s archaeologists, led by Dr Giorgos Papathanasopoulos, began excavating the site. They believe that hundreds of people lived inside Alepotrypa using it as a shelter, place of worship and burial ground. Over the years hundreds of finds have been excavated which resulted in the establishment of a museum on the site. Experts believe that hundreds of people lived inside Alepotrypa before the entrance collapsed 5,000 years ago, burying everyone alive.  Diros is one of the most significant Neolithic sites in Europe.

Next to Alepotrypa is another cave, this one with water, which is full of stalagmites and stalactites.

We visited Diros 15 years ago, as guests of Dr Papathanasopoulos who is a family friend. We had guided tours of Alepotrypa, the museum, and then, in a boat, had a tour of the second cave with the stalagmites and stalactites. My sister and I donated our father's library, who was also an archaeologist, to the Diros museum, so reading about this find has a further, personal interest for me.


Alimos Online


  1. So moving to see their entwined bodies.

    1. I know, Avril, and it's such a powerful reminder that humanity has not changed at all - still the same preoccupations, tenderness and passions.

  2. Replies
    1. Fascinating and mysterious - how did they die? Was it suicide? Was it when the entrance of the cave collapsed? Even though the dates don't tally.