Child 'Vampire' Was Buried 1,550 Years Ago in Italy

Leslie Hanson
October 16, 2018

The excavation of an ancient burial ground for "evil" children in Lugnano in Teverina, Italy was already proving to be abnormal, but there was one body that stunned archaeologists.

While that is uncertain, something has come to light with the discovery of the child's burial this summer: the body had a stone placed in his or her mouth. The stone had teeth marks, leading archaeologists to believe it had been deliberately inserted into the child's mouth after death - a freaky, ancient practice to keep the child from rising from the dead and spreading the disease. A community on the cusp between paganism and Christianity, horrified by deaths they couldn't explain, resorted to witchcraft and buried their children through ritualistic means, said David Soren, a University of Arizona regents professor who has been overseeing archaeological excavations at the site in the last three decades. Locals are calling it the "Vampire of Lugnano".

IT's a macabre site: an ancient Roman graveyard dedicated to children - a lot of them aged less than three.

Other weird remains have been discovered at this cemetery, called La Necropoli dei Bambini, or the Cemetery of the Babies, including the skeletons of babies and toddlers found buried beside raven talons, toad bones and bronze cauldrons filled with the remains of sacrificed puppies.

A small child, thought to be about 10 years old, was found with a rock wedged in its mouth. A 3-year-old girl found at the site was buried with stones weighing down her hands and feet-a practice that Starr notes has always been employed as a preventative measure by cultures across the globe.

Excavations at the site since 1987 had previously uncovered the remains of 50 children, the oldest of which had previously been a three-year-old girl.

Yet this new find represents both the oldest child to be found at the cemetery and the first instance of a rock intentionally inserted into the mouth. "This just further highlights how unique the infant - or now, rather, child - cemetery at Lugnano is".

Excavation director David Pickel, said the discovery has the potential to tell researchers much more about the devastating malaria epidemic that hit Umbria almost 1,500 years ago - and how locals "used witchcraft" in response.

Among the infant and toddler bones have been found raven talons, toad bones, bronze cauldrons filled with ash - and sacrificed puppies.

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Soren says, 'We know that the Romans were very much concerned with this and would even go to the extent of employing witchcraft to keep the evil - whatever is contaminating the body - from coming out'. It belonged to a 10-year-old.

It's a ritual similar to other burials found throughout Europe where skeletons have been found with stakes or stones forced down their throats. Tooth marks on the stone indicate it was placed deliberately. In Northamptonshire in England about 75 miles north of London, a man from the third or fourth century was found previous year, a stone sat where his tongue had been. While virtually every culture contains its own version of the mythos of the bloodthirsty night stalkers, according to Jordan Wilson - a bio-archaeology graduate student at the University of Arizona - "this is a very unusual mortuary treatment that you see in various forms in different cultures, especially in the Roman world".

These types of burials are often referred to as vampire burials since they are associated with a belief that the dead could rise again.

"It seems when humans are faced with the unknown, it's been a very common reaction throughout our entire history to react with fear", Wilson said. Wilson added, "Anytime you look at burials, they're significant because they provide a window into ancient minds".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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