Archeologists have unearthed a skeleton of a ten-year-old child in the so-called Cemetery of Children in central Italy, which is a Roman earth-house for toddlers and babies as well as artifacts presumably used in witchcraft, including toad bones, raven talons, and bronze cauldrons.
The child, whose sex remains unknown, has been dubbed the “Vampire of Lugnano” because it had a stone in its mouth. It’s been assumed that the child's kin intentionally put it there for ritualistic purposes as the skeleton had its mouth open, and the rock had been scratched.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s extremely eerie and weird,” said Professor David Soren from the University of Arizona, as quoted by The Independent.
The researchers suggest that the ancient inhabitants of central Italy made these precautions to ensure that the dead wouldn’t rise from the grave to spread the disease which could have killed him or her. The child’s abscessed tooth gave the researchers a clue that he/she might have been contaminated with malaria, which swept across this region in Italy fifteen centuries ago. The scientists have assumed that this special cemetery was set up exclusively for children, who were more susceptible to deadly epidemics.
The archeologists have come across four other burial sites, apart from the “vampire’s” tomb, but his one was peculiar. The late Roman vampire is significantly older than other children found at the site, and his tomb featured a “double-inhumation.”
The outlet has cited another member of the research group, bio-archaeologist Jordan Wilson, as saying that “This is 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.”