Scientists have discovered the body of a ‘child vampire’ buried more than 1,500 years ago in Italy.
The 10-year-old’s body was found with a rock in it’s mouth and weighed down, over fears that it would rise from the dead.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s extremely eerie and weird,” Professor David Soren, Archaeologist from the University of Arizona said.
Locally called the ‘vampire of Lugnano’, the skull was discovered by archaeologists from the University of Arizona, Stanford University and Italy, in the Italian region of Umbria.
The child’s age was determined based on dental development but it’s sex is unknown.
The remains have not yet been DNA tested, but the child had an abscessed tooth which suggests that he or she may have fallen victim to malaria.
“This is a very unusual mortuary treatment that you see in various forms in different cultures, especially in the Roman world, that could indicate there was a fear that this person might come back from the dead and try to spread disease to the living,” Bioarcheologist Jordan Wilson, a University of Arizona doctoral student in anthropology said.
The body buried 1550 years ago, was found at La Necropoli dei Bambini, or the Cemetery of the Babies which dates to the mid-fifth century when a deadly malaria outbreak swept the area, killing many vulnerable babies and small children.
In other documented ‘vampire’ burials, an elderly 16th-century woman dubbed the “Vampire of Venice” was found with a brick in her mouth in 2009 in Venice, Italy.
An adult male from the third or fourth century was found buried facedown with his tongue removed and replaced with a stone, in Northamptonshire, England in 2017.
Other examples of vampire burials throughout history include bodies being staked to the ground through the heart or dismembered prior to interment.
Previous excavations at the Cemetery of the Babies found infant and toddler bones alongside items like raven talons, toad bones, bronze cauldrons filled with ash and the remains of sacrificial puppies.
In previous excavations of more than 50 burials, a three-year-old girl was found with stones weighing down her hands and feet, a practice used by different cultures throughout history to keep the deceased in their graves.
Archaeologists will return to Lugnano next summer to complete excavations of the cemetery and learn more about a dark time in history.
– With Australscope