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Ancient Mysteries

Ancient Greeks took steps to deter zombies

June 24, 2015 | Comment icon 11 comments



The Greeks were afraid that the dead would come back to life. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Bernard Gagnon
The concept of the dead rising from their graves is certainly not unique to today's movies and TV shows.
In a cemetery near the coastal town of Kamarina in southeastern Sicily archaeologists discovered several bodies that the ancient Greeks had deliberately pinned down using heavy objects as a way to ensure that they would never be able to rise from the dead.

One of the individuals appeared to have died from a mysterious illness that had worried authorities to such an extent that several large ceramic fragments had been placed on top of the remains.

A second body, that of a teenager, had also been pinned in place by five large stones.

"Necrophobia, or the fear of the dead, is a concept that has been present in Greek culture from the Neolithic period to the present," said archaeologist Carrie Sulosky Weaver.
Strangely there were also indications that some of the local inhabitants had been attempting to accomplish the complete opposite by performing rituals intended to summon the dead.

Tablets ( known as 'Katadesmoi' ) transcribed with spells and curses were also found at the site.

"The tablets contained petitions that were addressed to underworld dieties who would command the spirits of the dead to fulfill the request of the petitioner," said Weaver.

"Although these acts appear to be contradictory, together they provide a powerful testimony to the ways in which the ancient Greeks conceptualized the dead."

Source: Discovery News | Comments (11)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by clare256 7 years ago
Makes you wonder how many people in the past were actually buried alive because people mistakenly thought they were dead.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Athena1979 7 years ago
Well, it worked. No zombie apocalypse in Greece. What can we learn from them? We don't need to stockpile guns, food and toilet paper - we just need to bury our dead with rocks on top of them.
Comment icon #4 Posted by RoofGardener 7 years ago
Death by "pressing" was a punishment for witchcraft in the UK and Europe.
Comment icon #5 Posted by DieChecker 7 years ago
Doesn't seem contradictory to me..... Some people you want to stay dead, and some you want to come back. Seems to me putting 5 feet of dirt on top of someone would work better then a couple stones, but maybe they were to hold the body down while the hole was filled in?
Comment icon #6 Posted by Thorvir Hrothgaard 7 years ago
Other cultures took these kinds of steps too. And to this day, no zombies... Hey, maybe they're onto something.
Comment icon #7 Posted by ShadowSot 7 years ago
Was it zombies or vampires? There was a belief at the time that illness was spread by the undead returning and infecting the family or town they lived with or in. Vampires hadn't developed into the sexy blood drinkers of today yet.
Comment icon #8 Posted by MissJatti 7 years ago
Maybe they were heavy weight lifters, which went terribly wrong
Comment icon #9 Posted by Mikko-kun 7 years ago
Makes you wonder how many people in the past were actually buried alive because people mistakenly thought they were dead. Yup. Once you're on the ground, better get back up quietly when no one's there, like Jesus. Else you're in for it.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Thorvir Hrothgaard 7 years ago
People were lighter back then. When they died, they lost mass, and eventually became lighter than air. Thus, the heavy stones to keep them pinned down. Ugh, yeah.
Comment icon #11 Posted by TWO OF HEARTS 7 years ago
someone commented on the post on another site that i agree with. "Considering it's a coastal town, couldn't the bodies be weighted to prevent them from floating up during a flood?"


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