28 May 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

‘4,200-year-old Zombie grave’ discovered in Germany

Archaeologists excavating in East Germany have found a 4,200-year-old grave near Oppin in Saxony-Anhalt containing the skeleton of a man believed to be at risk of becoming a “zombie”.

A supposed zombie grave, dating back thousands of years, shedding light on the superstitious practices of Bronze Age Europeans.

The deceased was pinned under a large stone to prevent him from rising from the grave to wreak havoc on the living. The slab was four inches (10 centimeters) thick, 20 inches (50 centimeters) wide, and roughly three feet (one meter) long. Its intended function was to stop the deceased from excavating his own grave, as zombies—or, more accurately, revenants—have been known to do.

The tomb of the suspected zombie was uncovered during excavations that have been launched along the route of a planned long-distance, underground power line known as the SuedOstLink, which will transmit electricity from Saxony-Anhalt into Bavaria.

“It is an adult man, about 40 to 60 years old. He is lying on his left side with his legs bent and facing east,” excavation manager Uwe Moos said at the excavation site. “A large stone, about one metre long, 50 centimeters wide and ten centimeters high, lies across his lower legs.”

The zombie grave was discovered in open farmland in Saxony-Anhalt (MDR)
The zombie grave was discovered in open farmland in Saxony-Anhalt (MDR)

According to Moos, the deceased may have been unloved or suffered from a serious illness. “The heavy stone was intended to prevent him from coming back,” said Moos. The man may have come from the Bell Beaker culture – making it the first such revenant grave from this period in central Germany.

Although stories about vampires, zombies, and other undead ghouls were particularly prevalent in Europe during the Middle Ages, little is known about how deeply the idea of the revenant permeated Bronze Age mythology. The fact that a zombie burial was found in eastern Germany indicates that the legends were known in the area as early as the third millennium BC, indicating that they may have originated even earlier in prehistory.

“We know that even in the Stone Age, people were afraid of revenants,” said archaeologist and Project Manager Susanne Friederich, in an interview with the German public broadcasting outlet MDR. “Back then, people believed that dead people sometimes tried to free themselves from their graves.”

A common theme in many ancient mythologies, particularly those of the Celtic and Norse people, was the revenant or zombie. Ancient Greeks also had a genuine fear of revenants, as evidenced by their custom of weighing down entombed bodies. The Romans believed in revenants, and putting stone blocks in the mouths of the dead prevented them from rising and devouring the flesh of the living, according to a wealth of literature.

The burial site dates back around 4,200 years, the archaeologist said. Photo: © LDA Saxony-Anhalt, Anja Lochner-Rechta
The burial site dates back around 4,200 years, the archaeologist said. Photo: © LDA Saxony-Anhalt, Anja Lochner-Rechta

To stop the evil dead from rising, one way was to lay a large stone across the body. However, it wasn’t the only one.

“There are graves where the corpse even lies on its stomach,” Friederich said.  “If it lies on its stomach, it burrows deeper and deeper instead of rising to the surface … there are also dead bodies lying on their stomachs who were also pierced with a lance, so they were practically fixed in the ground.”

The excavations are taking place in the run-up to the grid expansion of the direct current line SuedOstLink. The approximately 150-kilometer-long section through Saxony-Anhalt will be archaeologically investigated until 2025. The skeletal remains have been recovered from the Neolithic grave and are being transferred to a laboratory in Halle for further study.

SACHSEN-ANHALT

Cover Photo: © LDA Saxony-Anhalt, Anja Lochner-Rechta

Related Articles

The Entire Genome Of 35,000-Year-Old Skull From Romania Sequenced “Peştera Muierii 1”

24 May 2021

24 May 2021

Researchers have successfully sequenced the whole genome from the skull of Peştera Muierii 1, women who lived in today’s Romania...

Salt May Have Been Used as Money in Exchanges

24 March 2021

24 March 2021

Salt has always been a precious metal. Salt was needed in many areas, from the preservation of food to the...

The 2000-year-old origin mystery of the Etruscans solved

25 September 2021

25 September 2021

A genetic analysis of DNA taken from ancient skeletons appears to have answered a conundrum that has captivated researchers for...

Ancient ceremonial chariot found in Pompeii

27 February 2021

27 February 2021

The Archaeological Park announced that a gorgeous Roman chariot was found “almost intact” near Pompeii, where it was buried, calling...

Name of Iranian city identified on 1800-year-old Sassanid clay seal

9 April 2024

9 April 2024

In a stunning archaeological find, the name “Shiraz” was identified on a clay sealing from the Sassanid era written in...

Mine-clearance divers discovered an ancient shipwreck dating from the 3rd century BC

25 June 2023

25 June 2023

As a result of collaborative training exercises between Croatian and Italian naval mine-clearance divers, one of the earliest fully preserved...

Remains of 14th-century Synagogue thought to be one of largest in region discovered in Poland

14 August 2023

14 August 2023

The remains of what is thought to be a sizeable 14th-century synagogue complex, including a mikvah, have been discovered during...

A long-lost branch of the Nile helped in building Egypt’s pyramids – Scientists Say

1 September 2022

1 September 2022

The Giza Pyramids are one of the world’s most iconic cultural landscapes, and they have fascinated humans for thousands of...

2000-year-old quarry discovered in Jerusalem that could be the source of Second temple stones

5 September 2021

5 September 2021

Archaeologists have discovered a 2,000-year-old quarry in Har Hotzvim, now an industrial park in Jerusalem. The Israel Antiquities Authority said...

Rare Arabic inscription discovered during Malta housing project works

3 May 2023

3 May 2023

A rare Arabic inscription, possibly dating back to medieval times, was discovered at the site of a social housing project...

God Vishnumurthy Statue Found in a Well in Karnataka

28 February 2021

28 February 2021

A statue of the god Vishnumurthy dumped into a well was found near a destroyed Udupi temple in the state...

Coin hoard found in fireplace ‘belonging to Scottish clan chief’ murdered at infamous Glencoe Massacre

17 October 2023

17 October 2023 1

Coins believed to have belonged to a Scottish clan chief murdered in an infamous 17th-century Glencoe massacre, have been found...

Dog Kajtuś uncovers Poland’s biggest treasure of the past 100 years

21 April 2022

21 April 2022

A dog named Kajtuś discovered the biggest treasure found in Poland in the last 100 years. The treasure was found...

A Rare Ancient Saber Discovered in Kyrgyzstan

5 August 2023

5 August 2023

An ancient saber (heavy military sword with a long cutting edge and, often, a curved blade) was found by three...

“Land of the Thousand Temples” Kancheepuram in India

20 May 2021

20 May 2021

Kancheepuram, one of the most sacred and religious Hindu pilgrim centers in India is also called the ‘Land of the...