Scientists digging in Ireland have uncovered what they believe to be the corpses of real life zombies buried in the 8th century. The discovery was made in Kilteasheen near Knockvicar in County Roscommon during a series of digs from 2005-2009.
The zombie skeletons were found with rocks wedged in their mouths and researchers have said this was connected to the belief these individuals would return from the dead unless the measure was taken.
The excavation is part of a survey of medieval churches in the county and has become one of the largest research excavations in the country. So far, the survey has uncovered 137 skeletons dating from the 7th through to the 14th centuries; including traces from the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Early and Later Medieval periods. The researchers believe that in total there are approximately 3,000 skeletons buried at the site.
The two zombie skeletons were both men with one between 20 to 30 years old and the other 40 to 60 years old. A large black stone was purposefully jammed into their mouth, one with such violence that his jaws were almost dislocated. The local legends of the time said this was a cure to prevent the dead from returning as a revenant; stopping these real life zombies from creating a local zombie pandemic.
It was believed that the revenants chewed through their shrouds then continued into the towns and attacked people, infecting them with their bite. By blocking the mouth, the undead would be unable to chew through the shroud or attack people.
While it’s unknown exactly why extra precautions were taken with these two corpses, it’s obvious the survivors weren’t going to take any chances. In the end, it may have been something as simple as superstition. Perhaps the two men were considered dangerous – murderers, rapists – or had died suddenly from a strange illness.
Stories about revenants have come from all over the world and while there are differences in the legends, there are many similarities too. The biggest similarity is the fact that zombies did exist and were witnessed all over the world. With a limited (virtually non-existent) understanding of biology and a complete unawareness of virus infections, the people of these times did their best to comprehend why the dead would be walking. As such, burial practices, how a person died, the handling of the dead, unfinished business and curses were all considered possible ways a corpse could return as a revenant. Certain religions, such as Christianity, maintained revenants were people who had led a sinful life and their vanity, wickedness or lack of faith in God cursed them to rise from their grave.
What do you really think happened? Could it have been one of these two men was already a zombie when he bit the other? Perhaps the simplest explanation is the best.