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Remains Found in Italian Graveyard Might Be 800-Year-Old Witches
by Jamie Frevele | 1:57 pm, September 26th, 2011
An archaeological dig in Tuscany uncovered what appears to be a “witches’ graveyard.” One of the dearly departed? A set of 800-year old remains belonging to a woman who had seven nails lodged in her jawbone. This discovery, as well as a set of more nails that surrounded her skeleton (to pin her clothing down so she wouldn’t rise from the dead), are what led the archaeologists to believe she was a witch. There was no indication of a false nose, but they did find other items that helped them make their conclusion.
The team’s original mission was to find the remains of the local patron saint, St. Cerbonius, who died over 1,500 years ago. But recently, they came across this graveyard in the coastal town of Piombino, near an 800-year-old church, which is even more curious considering that these witches were now apparently buried in hallowed Christian ground. However, they were not placed in any kind of coffin or shroud, and the team is positing that the women — all between the ages of 25 and 30 — must have been of a higher class and therefore privvy to the church space. A second skeleton was found with 17 dice — 17 is not only an unlucky number in Italy, but women were also not allowed to play dice at the time.
But the discovery of the skeleton with nails driven into the jawbone were especially chilling. Two years ago, a woman’s 600-year-old remains were found in Venice — with a stone lodged in her mouth. This was what people did to someone they thought was a vampire. Found among victims of the Black Plague, the rock was to ensure that 1. she would not infect more people and 2. she would not chew through her shroud in the afterlife. Dead is just not dead enough for some.
The discoveries raise more than a few questions. For example, was the woman buried with the dice merely suspected of being a witch, or not kindly looked upon? And the woman who had her jaw nailed shut and clothing pinned to the ground — is it at all possible that she was buried alive? Nothing can explain why women buried in such a ghastly and disrespectful manner would be anywhere near a church. But the leader of the archaeological team, Alfonso Forgione, says they will be looking into it:
‘The way the bodies were buried would seem to indicate some form of exorcist ritual and the remains will be examined to see if we can establish a cause of death for them.’
Nothing like a reminder of centuries of vicious persecution of women to get everyone psyched for Halloween, amirite?
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