In a 5th century, Italian cemetery a 10-year-old child is buried in a manner indicating that there was fear he would, like a vampire, rise from his grave and claim the living as his victim.
Archaeologists have been excavating the area of Lugano in Teverina, Italy since 1987. Recently they came across a deviant burial that they consider quite eerie.
The cemetery dates back to the 5th century, and in a section known as La Necropoli dei Bambini which translates to the Cemetery of the Babies. There is evidence of ritual magic practiced during the burial process. Findings include raven talons, bronze cauldrons of ash, toad bones and the remains of puppies that appear to have been sacrificed and buried alongside the remains of young children.
Among these burials is one that is even stranger, and which is now being called the Vampire of Lugano. The bones of a 10-year-old child was found with a stone inside its mouth, this was done as part of a ritual to keep him from rising and infecting the community with the disease that most likely killed him which was malaria.
Despite hundreds of years between the burials, another instance of the same customer was found in Venice in the grave of a woman buried to the 16th or 17th centuries. The cemetery was located on the island of Nuovo Lazzaretto which was filled with plague victims. Her skeleton too was found with a large stone inside her mouth.
The archaeologists believe the logic behind this practice was the fear that these victims would return from the dead, and that the stone would somehow bind them to the earth they were buried in. The Venetian ritual confirmed "the intimate belief held at those times, between the plague and the mythological character of the vampire". The insertion of a rock or brick in the mouth of a corpse has no reference, even folkloric for this practice.
Despite Venice being considered a very cosmopolitan city during the time of the woman's burial, there was superstition, but there no exorcism practiced on the corpse of a deceased person.
Source - Discover
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer