A 1,550-year-old “vampire burial” of a child with a rock stuffed into his or her mouth has been discovered in an ancient cemetery in Lugnano, Italy.
Those who buried the child, who possibly died of malaria, may have used the rock to prevent him or her (the child’s sex isn’t known) from rising from the grave and spreading disease to other people, said a team of researchers in a statement released Oct. 12 by the University of Arizona.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s extremely eerie and weird,” said David Soren, an anthropology professor at the University of Arizona, who has overseen archaeological excavations at the cemetery since 1987. “Locally, they’re calling it the ‘Vampire of Lugnano.'”
Other bizarre remains have been discovered at this cemetery, called La Necropoli dei Bambini, or the Cemetery of the Babies,including the skeletons of babies and toddlers found buried beside raven talons, toad bones and bronze cauldrons filled with the remains of sacrificed puppies. In one case, the skeleton of a 3-year-old girl at the cemetery was found with stones holding down her hands and feet, the researchers said.