Published: Tue, October 16, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

'Vampire' child discovered buried in 5th Century Italian cemetery

'Vampire' child discovered buried in 5th Century Italian cemetery

As Science Alert's Starr writes, these "vampire burials" don't quite match up with modern-day conceptions of Dracula and other popular bloodsuckers. Locals are calling it the "Vampire of Lugnano". As with previously discovered sites, these unusual burials include features that indicate the living feared the dead may come back to life and took preventative steps to keep that from happening.

"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", bioarcheologist Jordan Wilson, a doctoral student in anthropology at the University of Arizona who analyzed the bones in Italy, said in the statement.

Soren has said that the "Cemetery of Children" or "La Necropoli dei Bambini where the vampire child was found, has produced a multitude of evidence demonstrating the witchcraft that was prevalent at the time".

"I've never seen anything like it", said archaeologist David Soren.

These discoveries offer a glimpse into a terrified society swept by a deadly, unknown disease. We have a saying in bio-archaeology: "The dead don't bury themselves".

"It must have been a situation where you don't know what's happening, you have no idea. where you're nearly trying anything in desperation and listening to whoever can come up with an answer", Soren said.

Archaeologists have discovered the body of a 10-year-old child at an ancient Roman site in Italy which they believe was ritually buried to prevent it rising again from the dead.

"Given the age of this child and its unique deposition, with the stone placed within his or her mouth, it represents, at the moment, an anomaly within an already abnormal cemetery", said Excavation director David Pickel.

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The so-called vampire child is not the only sign of mysterious superstitious practices uncovered at the site. They found remnants of what had been a pyramid-shape dining room, slaves' quarters, a ceiling that sloped on four sides, paintings and wall mosaics.

Archaeologists previously found infant and toddler bones alongside raven talons, toad bones, bronze cauldrons filled with ash and the remains of puppies that appear to have been sacrificed - all objects commonly associated with witchcraft and magic.

The researchers said they suspect the child died of malaria, even though DNA testing hasn't been conducted on the child's remains. The oldest child to date was the 10-year-old whose discovery was announced last week. The aforementioned grave of a 3-year-old included rocks said to be weighing down the hands and feet, and this is believed to have been a measure to keep the deceased from returning.

Previous burials have shown the stone-in-mouth symbolism.

Lugnano is not the only site of vampire burials. However, there have been similar burials in other locations in Italy, such as the elderly 16th-century woman, unearthed in 2009, who was buried with a brick in her mouth. In Northamptonshire, England, an adult male from the third or fourth century was found buried facedown with his tongue removed and replaced with a stone.

"It's something that I thought a lot of while we were working on this project".

"It's a very human thing to have complicated feelings about the dead and wonder if that's really the end", Wilson concludes.

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