Archaeologists in China have found the skeletons of a man and woman who are lovingly positioned in an "eternal love lock."

Experts believe the skeletal remains date back more than 1,500 years and were discovered in northern China in 2020.

The remains were found during the excavation of a cemetery after the skeletons became exposed during construction work in Shanxi province, according to Live Science.

From the evidence found archaeologists estimated that the man would have stood around 5 feet, 4 inches and died between the ages of 29 and 35.

The man was found to have a broken arm, part of a missing finger on his right hand, and bone spurs on his right leg.

The woman, who may have sacrificed herself to be buried with the already dead man, was between the ages of 35 and 40 and about 5 feet, 2 inches.

Details about the find formed part of a study which was published in June in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology.

The researchers wrote: "The [burial] message was clear — husband and wife lied together, embracing each other for eternal love during the afterlife."

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It is likely that the couple were buried together around 1,500 years ago and clearly "in a position to be embraced," researchers wrote.

Archaeologists decided that the man and woman should be kept together, so the find was only partially excavated so it could be placed in a museum.

Burials of a man and woman together in a grave are not uncommon but the way the couple are locked in each other's arms is the first of its kind in China and may reflect changes in attitude towards love at the time.

Researchers wrote in their journal: "The free expression and active pursuit of love in Chinese culture became prominent during the first millennium.

"This funerary practice might have been influenced by the customs from the Western Regions and beyond through the Silk Roads and the Sinicization and assimilation of the Xianbei people."

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