Archaeologists excavating an early Roman imperial cemetery in Turkey have uncovered evidence of unusual funerary practices. Instead of the usual method of cremation on a funeral pyre and conveying the remains to their final resting place, these cremated remains were left in place and covered with brick tiles and a layer of lime. Finally, dozens of twisted and bent nails, some decapitated, were scattered about the burn site. Archaeologists suggest this is evidence of magical thinking, specifically an attempt to prevent the deceased from rising from the grave to haunt the living, according to The last paper Published in the Journal of Antiquity.
Perhaps the best known examples of this type of superstitious funerary practice are the so-called “vampire” tombs that occasionally appear at archaeological sites around the world. In the early 1990s, children playing in Connecticut found the 19th-century remains of a middle-aged man identified only by the initials “JB55”, scrawled on brass tacks on his coffin. Its skull and thigh bones are neatly arranged in a skull and crossbones pattern, which has led archaeologists to conclude That the man was a “vampire” was suspected by his community. They’ve been around since then Possible identification for JB55 and reconstructed What a man might look like.
in 2018, Archaeologists discovered Skeleton of a 10-year-old boy at an ancient Roman site in Italy with a rock carefully placed in its mouth. This suggests that those who buried the child—who may have died of malaria during a deadly outbreak of the fifth century—feared that it might rise from the dead and spread disease to those who survived. Locals call her the “Vampire of Lugnano”. And last yearand archaeologists exposed An unusual example of people using these tips is found in a 17th-century Polish cemetery near Bydgoszcz: a buried female skeleton with a machete placed on her neck, as well as a lock on the toe of the left foot.
This latest find is part of a research project by KU Leuven in Belgium to excavate a specific area of the Sagalassos Location in southwestern Turkey. Humans occupied the area from the late 5th century BC to the mid-13th century AD, despite significant damage from the 7th century AD earthquake. The area in question is somewhat secluded and separated from the central and residential parts of the city. It consists of several adjacent terraces that have become used for funerary purposes. The early Roman imperial necropolis was first discovered in 1990, and archaeologists resumed working in the immediate surroundings in 2012, finding evidence of both burials and cremations over six centuries.
The scattered nails were found in a roughly oblong swath of burnt soil: the remains of a funeral pyre, complete with charcoal fragments of pine and scar wood, as well as cremated human bones. The burnt bones belonged to one person, most likely a male who died around the age of 18, based on analysis of the bones. The bone fragments were still roughly anatomically arranged, with no evidence of handling them during or after cremation.
Some of the charcoal remains appeared to be textiles, suggesting clothing or a shroud. Several artifacts were also found with the cremated remains: a coin dating to the second century AD, a handful of earthenware vessels from the first century AD, two jars of blown glass, and a piece made of worked bone with bronze hinges of unknown purpose. This is evidence that the mourners were following at least some traditional funeral rituals.
It is the 41 broken and bent nails—25 bent at 90 degrees with the heads pinched, and 16 bent and crooked but completely flat—recovered from the site that characterizes this burn. These were not coffin nails, which are usually intact, and nails were not used in the construction of a funeral pyre. The authors therefore concluded that the broken nails were deliberately scattered around the burial site to form a “magic barrier”. There is mention in many ancient literary sources of nails being used to ward off disease (Livy) or as protection against nightmares (Pliny the Elder).