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Archaeology & History

Mystery burials in Italy may be explained by fear of 'revenants'

By T.K. Randall
February 8, 2023 · Comment icon 2 comments

Many societies feared the dead rising from their graves. Image Credit: Pixabay / Syaibatulhamdi
Archaeologists have shed possible new light on the nature of some enigmatic burials found in the ruins of a Roman villa.
Vampires might be regarded as fiction today, but in the past, fear of these undead beings was a very real thing indeed - so real, in fact, that some communities took extra steps to prevent the corpses of alleged vampires from rising from the grave to feed on the living.

Back in 2018, archaeologists unearthed what was believed to be one such burial - that of a young child with a wooden block in its mouth - at the archaeological site of Poggio Gramignano in Italy.

At the time, the find came to be referred to as the "Vampire of Lugnano".
Now, though, archaeologists have cast doubt on the idea that the child had ever been regarded as a vampire. Instead, they argue, the block had been placed in the mouth to prevent the child returning as a "revenant" - a form of undead being created from a corpse after death.

The remains of other children - all dating back around 1,600 years - were also found at the site, including some whose limbs had been pinned down with rocks.

"There was tremendous fear of revenants and of mysterious forces [such as witches] who might harness the spirits of the dead for their own devices," Prof David Soren told Live Science.

"Stones in the mouth or over the body to weigh it down were seen as apotropaics [having the power to avert evil] to protect the as yet unaffected community."

Source: Live Science | Comments (2)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by flying squid 1 year ago
Just image. Some poor unlucky guy fell hitting his head and went unconscious. Quack doctors said he died and buried him. He woke up later and clawed his way out of his grave. He was happy to be alive. However, villagers thought he was a revenant and killed him for real. That type of thing could cause all these rumors of undead running around.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Crabby Kitten 1 year ago
I like a good vampire story. 


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