Lugnano in Teverina

Lugnano in Teverina and kid’s secrets of the necropolis

This is an history “of fear” which starts from an old Roman mansion turned into a children cemetery buried inside amphorae and an history of a “vampire” little girl found with a stone in her mouth.

If you want to know more, visit the civic archaeological Museum of Lugnano in Teverina where, among the other finds, are exposed several of disturbing burials discovered in the site of Poggio Gramignano, 5 kilometers from the village. Our history starts from here, in this mysterious area set in the Tiber valley, which the Municipality quickly turn into an archaeological cultural teaching park accessible to all.

The incredible discovery of the American archaeologist Soren
In 1989 the American archaeologist David Soren with the University of Arizona brought to light right in this valley some remains of a Roman country villa of the I century B.C.: a distinctly rich and complex architectural building with a surface of about 2000 square meters, with some spaces destined to otium (leisure time) of the dominus (lord) and several service areas used for agricultural production and for animal husbandry.
Further excavations showed that the villa, collapsed in III century A.D., was subsequently turned into a kids cemetery. Soren, indeed, identified in five villa’s rooms the remains of 60 little bodies, for the most part newborn, dating back to the V century A.D. and almost all placed inside the amphorae: a very popular burial during the imperial age and mainly used for children who belonged to poorer classes.

The malarial parasite, cause of the massacre
While the news of the incredible discovery travelled around the world, the team of the American archaeologist speculated children were affected by a malaria epidemic. A theory most plausible considering that this infection, transmitted by mosquitoes in marshy areas in the middle of V century A.D., haunted the place where today is located Lugnano in Teverina. Soren confirmed recently his hypothesis, finding a substance on the small bones remains – the hemozoin – exactly derived from mosquito bites. 

The last finding: the “vampire of Lugnano”
During the excavations campaign of July 2018 the mysterious site gave another surprise, the most disturbing one: under the burning sky of Umbrian summer, have surfaced the remains of an about ten years old little girl with a stone shoved in her mouth, a macabre method known as the vampires burial.
This little girl became for mass media of all over the world, “the vampire of Lugnano”, but she is not the only one to suffer this kind of violence: similar burials were documented in other places like for example in the capital city of Veneto, where in 2009 was found a woman body of the XVI century with a brick into her mouth and soon nicknamed “the vampire of Venice”, otherwise in the Northamptonshire county, in England, where has been found a man skeleton , dating back to III or IV century, face – down buried with his tongue removed and replaced with a stone.
According to archaeologist it’s about “precautions” that living people took to prevent that haunted dead men could get back to spread the illness: in fact it was believed that stones put on their bodies could use them like a ballast to keep them dead.
Into the site, as well as the “vampire” little girl, have been found other skeletons with big stones on their limbs, some containers full of ash and puppy dog skeletons, many of them beheaded: as stated by the scientists, several rituals dictated by superstition and by the need to ward off evil through them are evident.
The researches on the archaeological site meanwhile they are continuing. It was found for example that under the Roman building foundation there is another older complex which could reveal other mysteries of the past.

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