Moscow: Till death do us part! Scientists have discovered mysterious 3,500-year-old Bronze Age graves in Siberia, where male and female skeletons are buried facing each other and holding hands.
Dozens of the ancient burials in Staryi Tartas village, in Novosibirsk region, contain the bones of couples, facing each other, some with their hands held together.
Others show men or women buried with children, `The Siberian Times` reported.
Archaeologists hope that modern genetic tools and DNA tests will help shed some light in the next few years.
Establishing genetic links between the bodies might help them understand why they were buried together.
A number of theories have been fielded about these Andronovo burials. One such theory is that after the man died, his wife was killed and buried with him.
Another version suggests that some of the couples were deliberately buried as if in a sexual act, possibly with a young woman sacrificed to play this role in the grave.
One more theory is that, between 17th and 14th century BC, couples were probably buried together to emphasise the importance of nuclear families as a unit, even in death, so they demonstrate the importance attached by these ancient people to this form of relationship.
"We can fantasise a lot about all this. We can allege that husband died and the wife was killed to be interred with him as we see in some Scythian burials, or maybe the grave stood open for some time and they buried the other person or persons later, or maybe it was really simultaneous death," Professor Molodin, Director of Research of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said.