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A Mother’s Love Never Dies: 4,800-Year-Old Remains of a Mother Cradling Her Baby Found in Taiwan

The Love of a Mother Never Dies: 4,800-Year-Old Remains of a Mother Cradling Her Baby

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The 4,800-year-old skeleton of a woman holding a baby was found in Taiwan. The find was one of 48 sets of remains discovered in the Taichung area of central Taiwan. Altogether these individuals provide the earliest trace of human activity in the area.

Although it was not the only set of remains found at the site, the unearthing of the woman (probably a mother) and child had the largest impact on the archaeologists. "When it was unearthed, all of the archaeologists and staff members were shocked. Why? Because the mother was looking down at the baby in her hands," Chu Whei-lee, a curator in the Anthropology Department at Taiwan's National Museum of Natural Science told Reuters.

The Huffington Post says that the site was uncovered near Taichung's Ann He Road Ruin in 2014 however, it took a year to excavate the remains. Later carbon dating showed that the bones are 4,800 years old.

The mother and child created an emotional effect on the archaeologists that found them, much like previous finds of embracing couples and partners holding hands from discoveries around the world.

One striking example comes from a village in the Novosibirsk region of Siberia, where scientists found 600 Bronze Age tombs. They were surprised to find that dozens of them contained the skeletal remains of couples clutching onto each other. They had evidently been buried with great care and were found facing each other. Some of them even had their hands still clasped together. Grave goods were placed alongside the skeletons including bronze decorations, ceramic pottery, armaments, gaming pieces, and a mold/matrix to cast earrings and pendants.

Bronze Age couple found in Novosibirsk, Russia.

Bronze Age couple found in Novosibirsk, Russia. (Amfipoli News)

“The best fairy tales have always ended 'They lived happily ever after, and died on the same day’. It is quite astonishing how the fairy tales become life, as the bronze burials tell us a story how some people were not divided even by death,” archaeologist Vasiliy Labetskiy mused.

Another example, was found in 2015 at an archaeological site near the Diros Caves in the Peloponnese region of Greece. Archaeologists there found a young Neolithic couple embracing each other. Researchers there did not know how the Neolithic couple were killed, whether they died in the position they were found in, or whether they had been placed like that after death.

Yet another example came in September 2014, when two skeletons holding hands were found at an ancient site of pilgrimage – the Chapel of St Morrell in Leicestershire England.  According to a news release in the Leicester Mercury, the remains were believed to be of a man and a woman of a similar age, although researchers were not sure of their identity. As April Holloway reported of the find:

“The discovery of skeletons holding hands has often perplexed researchers, who have questioned how they came to die at around the same time. While the first assumption usually made is that one died and then the other committed suicide, this is unlikely [in this discovery] because suicide was regarded as a sin in the Medieval Ages, so anyone who killed themselves would not have been buried in a holy place.”

Example of the remains of a couple holding hands in Modena, Italy.

Example of the remains of a couple holding hands in Modena, Italy. (Credit: Rex Features)

These types of discoveries often raise the question if the people had died together or separately. There is the notion of love conquering time and death but sometimes hints at more sinister explanations as well. Nonetheless, discoveries such as these also add an increased sense of humanity to archaeological digs and can have a long-lasting impact on those who find the remains.

Featured Image: The mother and baby found in Taichung City, Taiwan. Source: Reuters Tv/Reuters

By Alicia McDermott

Alicia McDermott's picture


Alicia McDermott holds degrees in Anthropology, Psychology, and International Development Studies and has worked in various fields such as education, anthropology, and tourism. Traveling throughout Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador, Alicia has focused much of her research on Andean cultures... Read More

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