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Incredible ancient tomb holdings aren't limited to Egyptian pyramids or Chinese pottery-filled vaults. The Orkney Islands, in the far north of  Scotland, are home to numerous Neolithic ruins. These prehistoric sites include imposing mounds that hide stone complexes known as chamber piles. Usually, the mounds of earth raised at this site, like small mounds, are visible to passersby, but any terrestrial clues to the specific cemetery have been lost. When the earth and stones were removed by local farmers in the 19th century, the graves beneath were forgotten. With much detective work, archaeologists have now uncovered the impressively engineered tomb complex, including its strange pair of hugging skeletons. 

The Orkney Islands are a group of islands off the northeastern tip of Scotland. It has rich prehistoric archaeology, including monuments similar to those at Stonehenge: the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar. His most famous grave is the Mace Howe chamber tomb. Similar Neolithic tombs built around 5,000 years ago are known as Maes Howe-type tombs. The recently discovered tomb is exactly this type. Originally discovered in the 19th century, it was mentioned in contemporary newspapers. However, the levelling of the elevated part brought it back into oblivion.

Hugo Anderson-Wymark of the National Museums of Scotland began searching for the grave in 2020. Using newspaper clippings and old sketches showing the location, he found the location in the summer of 2023. Underground there was a stone wall that formed a passageway leading to a  circular tomb-shaped structure 49 feet in diameter. The central room and his six smaller rooms inside had corbelled roofs. In one of the side chambers were 14 skeletons of men, women, and children. A search for items transported in the 19th century uncovered pottery, stone tools, bone needles, and more.

Vicky Cummings from Cardiff University, who co-led the excavation, said in a statement: "It is surprising that so many human bones have been preserved in one part of the monument, especially since most of the stone was looted for construction material. "Considering that it is something that "These burial deposits are rarely found even in well-preserved indoor graves, and these remains will provide new insights into all aspects of the lives of these people. ” The remains of the two groups are in unique positions as if they were hugging each other even after death. "They may have been buried at the same time in a squatting position as if they were hugging each other," Anderson Whymark told Live Science. "They appeared to have been intentionally forced into close contact with each other. We also found another skeleton with its arms outstretched towards another skeleton."

The tomb's impressive masonry technology adds to the uniqueness of this find. He is one of only 12 Maze Howe-type passage tombs known on the Orkney Islands. "If the tomb had been completed, it would have been very impressive," Anderson Whymark said. "In the 19th century, it would have been destroyed in just a few centimetres." There are still questions to be answered. DNA testing will reveal whether the hugging skeletons are related, and further excavations could shed more light on Neolithic life. 

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