Tags: archaeology | italy | vampire | child

Archeologists Find Site of Feared 'Vampire' Child

vampire-like caskets sit in a morgue
(Daniel Kalker/AP)

By    |   Monday, 15 October 2018 08:01 PM

The 1,500-year-old remains of a 10-year-old malaria victim — a rock anchored in the mouth to keep the child from rising from the dead and spreading the disease — is providing additional evidence of an ancient practice of "vampire burial," The Washington Post reported.

Locals in the Italian town of Lugnano in Teverina, about 60 miles north of Rome, call archaeologists' discovery over the summer of the child's remains the "vampire of Lugnano," according to the University of Arizona.

According to the Post, tooth-shaped depressions were found in the cement that covered the stone, leading archaeologists to believe it had been deliberately inserted into the child's mouth after death.

"We know that this kind of unusual treatment usually indicates a fear of the undead, specifically, a fear that the dead might come back from the grave to continue to spread diseases to the living. . . . Placing the stone in the child's mouth is a literal or symbolic way of incapacitating them," Jordan Wilson, a bioarchaeologist at the university who was part of the team that unearthed the remains over the summer, told the Post.

The remains — the victim's gender uncertain — are among several dozen found at La Necropoli dei Bambini, or the Cemetery of the Babies, an abandoned Roman villa that was turned into a massive children's graveyard sometime in the middle of the 5th century, the Post reported.

Near the 10-year-old's grave was the body of a 3-year-old girl; her hands and feet had been weighed down with stones — another form of a vampire burial to keep the evil away, the Post reported. She also died of malaria.

According to University of Arizona professor David Soren, the ancient community, horrified by the inexplicable deaths from an unknown disease, resorted to witchcraft and buried their children through ritualistic means, the Post reported. 

Soren and his team of archaeologists have excavated 51 remains of children proven through biomolecular tests to have died of malaria, and fetuses believed to have been doomed with the disease before birth. The oldest child to date was the 10-year-old, whose discovery was announced last week, the Post reported.

Lugnano is not the only site of vampire burials. In Venice in northern Italy, an elderly 16th-century woman, who was buried with a brick in her mouth and discovered in 2009, had been called the "Vampire of Venice," the Post reported.

In Northamptonshire in England about 75 miles north of London, a man from the third or fourth century was found in 2017, a stone sat where his tongue had been.

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Providing additional evidence of an ancient practice of "vampire burial," the 1,500-year-old remains of a 10-year-old malaria victim was found with a rock anchored in the mouth to keep the child from rising from the dead and spreading the disease, per The Washington Post.
archaeology, italy, vampire, child
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2018-01-15
Monday, 15 October 2018 08:01 PM
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