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Ancient Greek remedies for zombie outbreaks

Modern incarnations of the zombie concept have their origins in Haitian folklore, but that doesn’t mean that Haitians were the first people to worry about the dead rising from the grave. Numerous variations on the idea of reanimated corpses existed in the ancient world, and recent archaeological evidence suggests the Greeks took strong interest in this concept as well.

When excavating a necropolis from the 3rd to 5th century in Sicily, most of the tombs held the expected assortment of items normally bestowed on bodies being laid to rest. These commonly include gifts and tributes for the afterlife, such as vases, figurines and coins. Two tombs stood out, however, as the bodies there weren’t buried with vases as much as under them. The adult was found with large fragments of what would have been a heavy, ceramic vessel for storing wine or oil. The second body, a child, was pinned underneath five large stone slabs.

In both cases, the hypothesis is that these objects were placed their to prevent the bodies from rising up. While the adult under the oil vessel showed signs of malnutrition, the child showed no obvious signs of disease, making it hard to say if a particular illness made the locals more fearful of these particular corpses than any other. However, inscribed tablets with petitions and requests for deities of the underworld were found nearby. With the expectation that the dead would be the obvious tools of these deities, it’s appears that the locals took the idea of reanimated corpses seriously enough to take steps to prevent it. Hopefully the tablet writer wasn’t too disappointed.

Source: Ancient Greeks Were Afraid of Zombies by Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News

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