Fear of Zombies Stretches Back to Ancient Greece

In some cases, stones were placed on dead to keep them from roaming
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2015 7:44 AM CDT
Fear of Zombies Stretches Back to Ancient Greece
One of the burials from Passo Marinaro in Sicily.   (C.L. Sulosky Weaver, courtesy of the Regional Museum of Kamarina)

The walking dead roamed ancient imaginations long before they found their way to your television, and the concept was far less fringe in ancient times. So say researchers inspecting 2,905 burials at the Greek colony of Kamarina in southeastern Sicily. Writing in the journal Popular Archaeology, University of Pittsburgh archaeologist Carrie Sulosky Weaver says they've unearthed quite a bit of evidence suggesting that, at least from the 5th through 3rd centuries BC, the ancient Greeks were inclined to believe that the dead could rise from the grave, and they'd use various methods (like burying the dead under stones) to try to keep them in place and others (like leaving spells and potions in the form of katadesmoi, or tablets) to invoke them.

"Tablets contained petitions that were addressed to underworld deities who would command the spirits of the dead to fulfill the request of the petitioner," Sulosky Weaver tells Discovery News. Of the thousands of burials, roughly half of which contained items like terracotta vases and figurines, two were of particular interest: Tomb 653, whose occupant was buried covered in fragments of amphora (two-handled vessels for storing wine), and Tomb 693, whose pre-teen occupant was buried beneath five large stones that appear to be pinning it down. All suggest that necrophobia, or fear of the dead, dates back at least 7,000 years. (Cornell researchers say this is the safest place to hide from zombies.)

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