Ancient Remains of Child Given a 'Vampire Burial' Were Found in a Baby Cemetery in Italy

Monday, 15 October 2018 - 12:47PM
Medical Tech
Monday, 15 October 2018 - 12:47PM
Ancient Remains of Child Given a 'Vampire Burial' Were Found in a Baby Cemetery in Italy
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Adapted from Pixabay
How does one bury a vampire? They sleep in coffins and are technically already dead, so it's a tricky question. It turns out that 5th century Italians had a method for keeping the dead from rising again to rip open throats and speak in overwrought accents: placing a big rock in the mouths of the deceased before throwing them in the ground. 

Indeed, the remains of a 10-year-old child given this type of vampire burial were unearthed over the summer by a team of University of Arizona and Stanford University archaeologists. Researchers believe that the child had malaria (as evidenced by an abscessed tooth) and that the stone was placed in its mouth so that, should it decide to audition for The Walking Dead, it would not spread the disease to the living. "I've never seen anything like it. It's extremely eerie and weird," said archaeologist David Soren, who has led digs at the site since 1987. "Locally, they're calling it the 'Vampire of Lugnano.'" 

If that's not creepy enough for you, the site where the bones were found is called La Necropoli dei Bambini, which translates to "Cemetery of the Babies." Over 50 children have been excavated from the site over the years, all under the age of three, making the "vampire" the oldest child discovered at the abandoned villa so far. Other children were found buried with objects of witchcraft as ways to ward off the disease, including raven talons, toad bones, and even the remains of dead puppies. "There are still sections of the cemetery that we haven't excavated yet, so we don't know if we'll find other older kids," said Jordan Wilson, a postdoctoral student who helped analyze the bones.

The scientists also don't know if they will find other kids with rocks in their mouths, but since it's almost Halloween we kind of hope that they do so that someone can buy the rights to the story and turn "Cemetery of the Babies" into a creepy horror film. "It's a very human thing to have complicated feelings about the dead and wonder if that's really the end," Wilson said about the unusual burial practice, which has been seen a few times before in other parts of Europe. "Anytime you can look at burials, they're significant because they provide a window into ancient minds. We have a saying in bioarchaeology: 'The dead don't bury themselves.' We can tell a lot about people's beliefs and hopes and by the way they treat the dead."
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