Zombies of the ancient world

Popular Archaeology thrills us with really, really old scares… digging up (literally!) evidence of Classical Greek zombie stories:

As one case in point, [University of Pittsburgh Postdoctoral Fellow and writer Carrie Sulosky Weaver] elaborates on finds unearthed in a cemetery located near the ancient coastal Greek town of Kamarina in southeastern Sicily. Known as Passo Marinaro, this cemetery served as a Classical period necropolis in use from the 5th through 3rd centuries BCE. Approximately 2,905 burials have been excavated by archaeologists at the site, more than half of which contained grave goods, such as terracotta vases, figurines, and metal coins.

But two of the burials were unique. The first, designated tomb 653, contained an individual who, although of unknown gender, apparently suffered from serious malnutrition and illness in life. But “what is unusual about Tomb 653 is that the head and feet of the individual are completely covered by large amphora fragments,” states Weaver. “The heavy amphora fragments found in Tomb 653 were presumably intended to pin the individual to the grave and prevent it from seeing or rising.” The second burial, designated tomb 693, contained the remains of a child about 8 to 13 years old. Also of indeterminate gender, this individual was buried with five large stones placed on top of the body. “Like the aforementioned amphora fragments,” states Weaver, “it appears that these stones were used to trap the body in its grave.”

“Although there are no clear indicators in either the burial contexts or the skeletal remains that would explain why the occupants of Kamarinean Tombs 653 and 693 were pinned in their graves, their special treatment suggests that necrophobic beliefs and practices were present in Greek Sicily,” she concludes about the burials.

[via Archaeological News]

More recently, the Greeks believed that vampires would rise from the grave to feed on the living… unless you stuffed their mouths full of lemons.