It’s not every day you discover a macabre ancient graveyard, but archaeologists from the University of Arizona, Stanford University and Italy have found a burial site called Necropoli dei Bambini (Cemetery of the Babies) dating from the end of the Roman empire and the beginning of the Dark ages.
It was a graveyard specially created to bury infants and children, but one particular skeleton uncovered by the archaeologists was of a 10-year-old child. This skeleton was buried showing that people from that time believed people could raise from the dead.
A Rock Forced Into the Dead’s Mouth
Archaeologist Professor David Soren stated that he has never seen anything like that, adding that:
“Locally, they’re calling it the ‘Vampire of Lugnano’.”
Throughout Europe, the ritual was found in other graves, where skeletons were found with stones or stakes forced into their throats.
According to experts, this ritual was based on the belief that the people who died of a specific disease was the mark of demonic infestation, and this type of burial would stop the disease from spreading.
The graveyard was built around the mid-fifth century, and Soren explains that this attempt at controlling disease was futile:
“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.”
The burial site contained infant and toddler bones, but also raven talons, toad bones, sacrificed puppies, and bronze cauldrons filled with ash.
The researchers that excavated the site in Lugnano (in Teverina, Italy) believe that the cemetery was filled with the dead children that suffered from malaria. DNA analysis of the bones shows that the whole region was swept by the disease and killed many babies and young children.
David Pickel, the excavation director, concluded that the cemetery was quite abnormal, “given the age of this child and its unique deposition, with the stone placed within his or her mouth.”
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.