Archeologists Find Site of Feared 'Vampire' Child — WashPost

Stanford University

He said: "I've never seen anything like it".

Locals in the Italian town of Lugnano in Teverina, about 60 miles north of Rome, call archaeologists' discovery over the summer of the child's remains the "vampire of Lugnano," according to the University of Arizona.

Skeletal remains of the boy, 10, have revealed a stone was purposefully placed in the child's mouth.

Other weird 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.

Before the discovery, the cemetery was believed to only be a burial site for younger children, the oldest being a 3-year-old girl.

The discovery of a 10-year-old, whose age was determined by dental development but whose sex is unknown, was surprising for many reasons - one being that they are significantly older than other children buried at the site.

Such symbolic burials generally indicate an effort by the living to keep the corpse from rising from the dead, according to archaeologists from the University of Arizona, Stanford University and Italy.

According to the Post, tooth-shaped depressions were found in the cement that covered the stone, leading archaeologists to believe it had been deliberately inserted into the child's mouth after death.

He added, "This just further highlights how unique the infant - or now, rather, child - cemetery at Lugnano is".

The archaeologists now plan to return to Lugnano next summer to complete excavations of the cemetery.

That girl had been buried with heavy stones placed over her hands and feet. In the past, the graveyard was thought to have been reserved for unborn fetuses, babies and toddlers. DNA testing of several of the excavated bones supported his theory. Archaeologists say it may have paved the way for the end of the Roman Empire and even kept barbarian ruler Attila the Hun from finishing his invasion of Italy.

"The burial of the vampires" was spread not only in Italy. "After removing the roof tiles, however, it became immediately clear to us that we were dealing with an older individual". Nevertheless, this latest discovery is not a common practice, and none of the other skulls unearthed from the site thus far has had a stone in its mouth.

They were buried among the ruins of a 1st Century Roman villa. Though vampire mythology as we know it - the classic blood drinking, sunlight-averse immortal who can convert the living with a bite - did not emerge until the 1700s, many cultures throughout Middle Aged Europe believed in the possibility that the recently deceased could wreak havoc as some sort of vampiric or revenant beings.

"This is a very unusual mortuary treatment that you see in various forms in different cultures, especially in the Roman world", says Jordan Wilson, a graduate student in bio-archaeology at the University of Arizona who studied the remains.

"It's a very human thing to have complicated feelings about the dead and wonder if that's really the end", Mr Wilson said.

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