During excavations in an ancient Roman cemetery, scientists discovered a grim site. A little girl, not more than 10 years old, with a stone lodged into her mouth, a practice designed to prevent a person from coming back from the dead. These burial rituals clearly indicate that people from that time firmly believed in the possibility of the dead coming back to life.
The region where the burial site was found had been hit by a malaria outbreak that killed many babies and young children. Interestingly enough, the oldest remains found belonged to a three-year-old child. Tests have since shown that most of those bones contain the DNA of malaria parasites.
Before this site had been discovered, other similar incidents have popped up during various excavations. A Venetian woman dating back to the 16th century was found with a brick in her mouth as well. An even earlier site was from the third or fourth century in England, where a man’s tongue was cut out and replaced with a stone.
In addition to the brick in her mouth, the little girl was surrounded by various trinkets and baubles thought to possess magical powers. Some of the items found were raven talons as well as frog bones. In another site, a three-year-old girl was found with stones placed on her feet and legs in order to keep her in place on the off chance she came back from the afterlife.
These practices were put in place for the protection of the living. The thinking behind them was to stop whatever evil was responsible for the death of the children from spreading to other living beings.