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Halloween & Seasonal => Halloween => Topic started by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 01:54:24 am



Title: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 01:54:24 am
Uncanny Archaeology
October 27, 2009

A look at the archaeology of Halloween, witches and witchcraft, creatures of the night, and ancient curses and magic
Uncanny archaeology springs from many roots. Today, Halloween--once All Hallows Eve, now All Saints Day--is a time for children to trick-or-treat costumed as super heroes, the latest characters invented by corporate marketing departments, or more traditionally as witches or ghosts. But some Halloween traditions are related to an ancient Celtic harvest festival, Samhain, and Celtic rituals, not all of them pleasant. In many past cultures the boundary between the living and the dead was thought to be shaky at times, as with Samhain. Those beings believed able to cross it--in spectral form as ghosts or as walking undead, such as vampires and zombies--were to be feared. Augustus' boyhood home was haunted according to Suetonius, the biographer of the caesars, but there is more than just written evidence for belief in the undead centuries ago, as vampire burials attest. And throughout history people have used love spells, protective charms, and curses to gain their ends. Were they successful? We don't know, but we have their voodoo dolls and lead tablets engraved with deadly appeals to supernatural forces. We also have the remains of witchy rituals, as well as evidence of counter-rituals intended to fend off attacks by witches. All of these beliefs have left a surprisingly strong--and often bizarre or gruesome--mark on the archaeological record. It's uncanny, but real archaeology. (Well, okay, the zombie attack in Predynastic Egypt article is a spoof.)

http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 01:55:20 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/Frances_Brundage_schwarze_Katze.jpg)
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/neck_crop.jpg)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 01:57:10 am
Halloween's Celtic Roots    

October 27, 2006

Exploring how the past and present mix in the night of costumes and jack o' lanterns.

(http://www.archaeology.org/online/interviews/gifs/butler1.gif)


(Courtesy Jenny Butler)

Beyond costume parties and trick-or-treating, the origins of Halloween can be traced to the Celtic New Year. The Romans, the Christian Church and, ultimately, commercialized society revised and reinvented this holiday, but inside the modern traditions traces of Halloween's ancient past remain. Jenny Butler, a Ph.D. student of Béaloideas/Folklore at the University College Cork in Ireland, will be speaking about Pagan and Celtic traditions at the International Conference on Halloween, held at Glasgow Caledonian University on October 31. ARCHAEOLOGY asked Butler to explain the Celtic roots of Halloween and how relics of the past are understood today.

What is Samhain and how does it relate to Halloween? Samhain is the ancient Celtic feast of the dead that is thought to have marked the start of winter. Because the Celts are believed to have measured time by nights rather than by days, as we do today, Samhain was the festival that marked the "New Year" for the Celtic peoples. The word Samhain is derived from the Old Irish language for the time of this festival and is still used in modern Irish to refer to the month of November. The word might be a linguistic inversion of the Irish-language term samhradh (summer) so that Samhain means "summer's end." Halloween or "All Hallow's Eve" is the night of October 31 and is the eve of All Saint's Day in the Christian tradition. Both feast days are connected with the dead and take place on the same calendar date and the modern Halloween can be seen to be a scene of merging of different cultural elements, some ancient, some pre-modern, some contemporary.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 01:57:57 am
What kind of rituals did Samhain involve?  Samhain traditionally involved rituals of divination, because of the idea that this was a liminal time when the "veil" between the human world and the otherworld became thin. With the perceived breaking down of barriers between the human and spirit realms, communication was thought to become possible between the living and the dead. People may also have believed that they would be privy to supernatural aid or otherworldly knowledge at this time. Other rituals may have been symbolically to do with the juxtaposition of life and death. Some divinatory rituals have survived in form of games of "snap-apple" and "bobbing for apples."


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 01:58:49 am
What was the significance of lighting bonfires?  There are many reasons why bonfires might be lit. One practical one is for warmth--the end of October is a cold, dark time. Around a fire is a traditional setting for storytelling sessions and the light and heat from a large fire add to the festive atmosphere. There's an Irish custom that it is good luck to jump the flames of a bonfire. There have been suggestions that the ancient practice of lighting fires on the hills of Ireland was to do with symbolically mirroring the light and color of the sun in the sky in a ritual that perhaps was part of a sun-worshiping religion.

In Neo-Paganism, the magical element of fire is connected with strength and passion, inspiration and spiritual illumination. Fires may be lit as part of a ritual designed to draw on this magical fire-energy. Some believe that the fire is purifying and thus may be used to cast away negativity in an area before a ritual begins.

There is some influence on the Irish Halloween from the English Bonfire Night in the U.K. Guy Fawkes Day on November 5 is a time when large fires are lit (in which effigies of "the Guy" in memory of the 1605 Gunpowder plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament). Fireworks displays are now part of Halloween here in Ireland so there is a possible connection between these events.

The more macabre significance of the fire as a way of disposing of heretics in medieval times also comes into play in regard to the imagery of Halloween and associations between fire and witchcraft.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 01:59:57 am
You've written about sacred sites. Are there any sites that were significant for the celebration of Samhain? Can you describe these sites and what took place there? An example of an ancient site that was associated with the observance of the feast of Samhain was the Hill of Ward or "Tlachtga," located near Athboy in the modern county of Meath. It is 116 meters (380 feet) high with a prehistoric ringfort on the top. There are legends that druids gathered there to light huge fires as a signal that festivities should commence. There is evidence that great fires were lit on this hill in pre-Christian times, perhaps in order to mark the beginning of winter. The Hill of Tara, one of the most well known of Irish heritage sites, was also a significant Samhain site in ancient times and there have been references in medieval manuscripts to Feis Teamhrach or a feast of Tara which was said to be held three days before and three days after Samhain. It is important to remember that, since we can only base our judgments on scant archaeological evidence and mythological sources, it is difficult to say with certainty what rituals occurred at ancient sites at Samhain but we do know the sites were important to the people in some way and had a religious significance.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:00:33 am
What is Neo-Paganism, and how does it relate to Celtic tradition? How are sacred sites utilized by practicing Pagans? Neo-Paganism is an umbrella term for a range of modern-day "earth-based" spiritual paths. The different Neo-Pagan "paths" can vary widely in terms of belief and practices. Witchcraft is one form of Pagan spirituality (though it should be noted that not all Witches are Pagans and other non-Pagan groups self-identify as "Witches" too). Pagan Witchcraft itself encompasses many different paths, one of which is the mystery religion of Wicca. There is also Hereditary Witchcraft (believed to be passed on through generations of a family) and there can be solitary forms of Witchcraft (where the practitioner practices alone rather than as part of a coven or other group). There is of course some eclecticism and other forms of modern magical traditions that are outside of those groupings.

The term "Pagan" stems from the Latin word paganus meaning "country-dweller" and this is where the moniker "earth-based" or "nature-based" comes in. Many Pagans dislike the prefix "neo" as they feel it belittles a perceived connection to ancient pre-Christian Paganism and the worship of the "Old Gods." My use of the term "Neo-Pagan" is simply for ease of description and to clearly distinguish between modern-day practitioners and the pre-Christian practices.

There are Pagan groups in Ireland who follow a Celtic-based tradition, usually meaning that they venerate deities from Celtic and Irish mythological pantheons exclusively or follow the Celtic structure of the ritual year, celebrating their festivals on dates which correspond to the annual seasonal transitions marked by festivals that the ancestral peoples of this land celebrated. The word "Celtic" can mean different things to different people and one of the things I'm looking at in my examination of Pagan culture is the contexts in which the word "Celtic" is used and what this means in terms of identity as Irish Pagans or Pagans living in a Celtic land.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:01:02 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/interviews/jpegs/butler2.jpg)

Modern Pagans conduct a garden ritual. (Courtesy Jenny Butler)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:01:17 am
Irish Neo-Pagans view many sites on the landscape as sacred and travel to them in order to practice rituals. Some sites, such as Tara, are used by various different Pagan groups. Other sites may be particularly favored by a certain group. In Pagan discourse, connections are made between their own practices at these sacred sites and that of pre-Christian peoples. Some neo-pagans believe that contemporary Paganism has some sort of basis in the distant past and there are those who claim to feel a special energy at these sites. Megalithic monuments, such as stone circles, are used by Pagans for ritual gatherings. Activities at these sites may involve "raising energy" for the purpose of earth healing, meditating, or the veneration of a spirit or deity connected with that particular site or location.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:01:29 am
How is Samhain celebrated in Ireland?  Traditionally, Samhain was celebrated with feasting and guising. It was customary to eat certain meals at this time, such as colcannon (a mixture of mashed potato, cabbage, and red onion). Another food associated with this festival is fruitcake or bairin breac (barmbrack) which had items in it that were used for foretelling the future--a pea (or rag) meant poverty, a bean meant wealth, a religious medal meant the finder may enter a convent or seminary, a ring meant marriage, and a stick meant that the person who received this in their slice of cake would be beaten by the marriage partner. Nowadays, a barmbrack can be bought in the supermarket but doesn't usually contain all of the above-listed items--many cakes only contain a ring. This change in the objects placed into the brack may reflect a change in attitudes; societal norms have changed and the stick that foretells a future of being beaten by a partner may no longer be acceptable in the modern mindset!


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:01:41 am
One theory on the origins of guising and dressing as ghosts may be in the notion that the dead are returning on this night and the change of appearance may protect the human from being recognized by the returning spirits of the dead. The sense of things being topsy-turvy and inverted may have given rise to people having fun and using an opportunity to change their appearance into something they are not ordinarily. Today, children dress up in various different costumes, some inspired by the latest films, characters from fantasy stories, and other areas of popular culture. Children trick-or-treat in Ireland nowadays but this tradition may have come back to Ireland from America. In pre-modern Ireland, it was known that Samhain was a time when people could play practical jokes and hoaxes, being a liminal time when such activity would be acceptable, but the custom of going door-to-door threatening to play pranks if candy and other treats are not received seems to be a later development. There seem to be many more organized children's Halloween parties these days and a fear of allowing small children out at night might be a factor in this. Irish society, as with society generally, has changed in major ways since the time of small communities where locals knew each other's children and would look out for them, into a very diversified and in many ways more dangerous society where children need to be accompanied by adults (thus lessoning the leeway to do tricks on niggardly people who don't deliver the goods!). The private Halloween parties of today tend to move towards fancy dress. We can still see similarities in the games played at Halloween and those of an older time--snap-apple, bobbing for apples, and dares are still very prominent at parties.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:01:53 am
In olden-day Ireland, jack-o'lanterns would be made by hollowing out a turnip or sugar beet and carving bits out to represent facial features and would then be lit from a candle placed in the inside. The dual idea behind this may have been to at once light the way for the souls of the dead ancestors who are returning to visit the human world and to frighten off any supernatural forces that might be about on this night. Today in Ireland, people carve faces on pumpkins, which are again an American import.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:02:01 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/interviews/gifs/butler3.gif)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:02:25 am
What do you think of the American version of Halloween? Personally, I have never had the pleasure of celebrating Halloween in America, nor have I conducted any research there or carried out a comparative analysis. From what I can glean from media sources and elsewhere, it would seem that Halloween is rather a lavish event in some parts of the U.S., with efforts made to organize large parties, decorate houses with symbols associated with Halloween--this would suggest maybe more of a commercial aspect to Halloween in America as compared with Ireland.

I would add that some of the common activities of the American Halloween might be reinterpretations of older Irish traditions. I think it would be interesting to research the mish-mash of cultural traditions that can be found in the American celebrations of Halloween. It would be fascinating to unravel the different strands and origins of customs and examine those new customs that have sprung up!


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:02:45 am
Why do you think the international conference on Halloween is important, and what message do you want to convey? What do you expect to learn?  I think the conference is important in that it provides a forum for analysis of a festival that is under-researched. It gives academics from various disciplines and different geographical locations an opportunity to join together and discuss the event in a comparative way. I think the kind of discourse a conference of this kind can generate can give us valuable insights into the nature of Halloween and understand better the origin and development of this event through time.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:03:03 am
Why did you begin studying Folklore, and can you describe your current research interests? Since an early age, I've been drawn to the supernatural and paranormal phenomena. That interest, combined with an interest in mythology and storytelling, led me to the academic discipline of folklore. When introduced to the academic subject matter, I saw that it encompassed so much more than what I had expected and I quickly became immersed. I find the study of culture fascinating and I like learning about different kinds of people and how they express themselves.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:03:08 am
My current research for my Ph.D. deals with various aspects of Neo-Pagan culture, and my dissertation has the working title "Neo-Paganism in Ireland: Worldview and Ritual Practices." My work examines many different aspects of contemporary Pagan culture from an ethnographic perspective; some of the main areas I'm focusing on are: belief-systems, magical worldview, environmental activism, rites of passage, festival celebrations, ritual dress, Neo-Pagan art, and the use of the Irish language and Irish and Celtic mythology in ritual. This is a relatively new research field and since little ethnographic work has been done in this area, I feel that Irish Paganism is a valuable movement to document.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:03:24 am
My other research interests include the New Age and New Religious Movements (NRMs) more generally. I have a strong interest in folk magic, charms, and folk medicine. I'm also fascinated by subcultures, alternative movements, and the outlook of these groups and the relationship they have with mainstream society (the Gothic movement for example). I find it interesting to analyze the identity-construction process of different groups of people, so that's fairly open-ended in terms of future research possibilities!

http://www.archaeology.org/online/interviews/butler.html


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:03:35 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/Gundestrupkarret1.jpg)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:06:54 am
Celtic Sacrifice    


Volume 55 Number 1, January/February 2002
by Jeremiah R. Dandoy, Page Selinsky, and Mary M. Voigt

Grim deposits of butchered bones attest ritual slaughter by Galatians at Gordion.

Following his death, Alexander's empire broke up into smaller, competing states whose rulers sometimes hired mercenaries to supplement their own armies. In 278 B.C., King Nicomedes I of Bithynia welcomed as allies 20,000 European Celts, veterans who had successfully invaded Macedonia two years earlier. These warriors, who called themselves the Galatai, marched into northwestern Anatolia with 2,000 baggage wagons and 10,000 noncombatants: provisioners and merchants as well as wives and children. Ancient texts tell us that some of these immigrants settled at Gordion, the old Phrygian capital of King Midas, about 60 miles southwest of modern Ankara. Exactly when Galatians took over the town is unknown, but archaeological evidence suggests they were there soon after 270 B.C., the time when documentary sources tell us that Celts began raiding in central Anatolia.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:07:18 am
Earlier excavations at Gordion recovered coins of the sort used to pay Celtic mercenaries, a few artifacts with parallels in Celtic Europe (a helmet flap, sheep shears, and pin), and a sherd inscribed with a clearly Celtic name, Kant
  • uix. Nevertheless, the archaeological evidence for a large Galatian presence at the site was not overwhelming until our discovery of grisly evidence of rituals involving humans. The broken-necked bodies and decapitated heads at Gordion cannot be attributed to any local Anatolian group, but are characteristic of European Celts.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:11:29 am
Between 1950 and 1973, Rodney S. Young and G. Roger Edwards, archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania Museum, excavated much of the eastern part of Gordion's citadel mound. Young, who was mostly interested in a burned level that he identified with King Midas (see "Celebrating Midas," July/August 2001), was unenthusiastic about later occupation levels. In 1964, influenced by the prevailing views of historians, he characterized the Galatian settlement as follows: "The buildings of [these] levels are mostly the light structures of a farming village with their outbuildings and byres, usually in poor preservation." By 1990, the picture had changed. In reassessing what was known of Galatian Gordion, Keith DeVries--Young's successor as director of the Gordion Project--pointed out that some houses contained evidence of considerable wealth, including gold coins and stone sculptures. Moreover, some of these people could at least read Greek, the language used to inscribe some of their possessions, and favored items made in Greek style. Roman sources, DeVries noted, referred to Celts in Anatolia as "Gallograeci" because of their adoption of Greek ways. DeVries' interpretation is more in line with that of Livy, who described Galatian Gordion at the beginning of the second century in his History of Rome as an emporium, or trading center, and an oppidum, or fortified settlement.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:11:44 am
The University Museum began new excavations at Gordion in the late 1980s. Investigation of the northwestern part of the citadel mound, carried out in cooperation with the Royal Ontario Museum, was the key to a new understanding of the Hellenistic period. First of all, we now know that the Galatian occupation lasted at least 100 years and was marked by two destructions or abandonments followed by a brief third occupation. Second, our soundings show that the entire top of the citadel mound was occupied in the third and second centuries B.C., confirming Livy's description of the place as a substantial town. Third, the arrival of the Celts at Gordion is marked by a change in the use of space within the settlement as well as in architectural forms and materials: above ordinary mud-brick houses, the Galatians constructed a monumental public building of cut-stone blocks that was surounded by a massive stone wall.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:11:58 am
Adjacent to the building and within the stone wall, we found a potter's house and workshop dating to the site's initial Galatian settlement. Inside this building, constructed of wattle and daub on a stone foundation, were clay loom weights, paint pots, storage jars, and a stone mortar, all still in place. On a hard-packed, well-trodden area between the workshop and the monumental building we found a toppled stone sculpture, a schematic human with faces on two opposing sides. The Gordion head is crudely carved, but its form replicates more sophisticated double-faced or "Janus" figures found at Celtic sites in Europe. The meaning of the Janus figures is not known, but the Gordion faces have the T-shaped brow and nose common on such heads. A silver coin found near it dates to the third century B.C. The construction of a monumental stone building within the earliest Galatian town indicates that Gordion's new Celtic rulers were ambitious, and able to mobilize a significant labor force. We do not know the cause or the date of abandonment of this first settlement (live by the sword?), but during the late third or early second century Galatian Gordion was rebuilt.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:12:15 am
In the second settlement, new houses were erected on the old foundations. The monumental building was still impressive, but the nearby wall had been dismantled. A huge trench left when its stone blocks were removed was filled with earth and refuse. DeVries identified this second settlement as the one destroyed by a Roman army led by Consul Manlius Vulso in 189 B.C., as recounted by Livy. During the destruction, the large stone building burned fiercely, bringing down its tiled roof. The nearby, rebuilt workshop was thoroughly ransacked. Pots, clay figurines, and even figurine molds were smashed into small pieces and scattered, presumably by soldiers looking for valuables. The Romans' success perhaps accounts for the scarcity of metal finds in this building. Preserved in a small pit within the structure were a few more valuable items, including a small bone lion with a flat back that was probably used as an inlay.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:12:30 am
These finds confirm and strengthen the picture of Galatian Gordion suggested by DeVries. What is striking is the juxtaposition of Greek and Celtic customs illustrated by new evidence for Galatian religious practices. On the mound, the workshop next to the monumental building produced figurines totally Greek in style that were presumably used in household ritual; figures of Greek deities such as Nike and Kybele were also found by Rodney Young. But off the mound we found remains left by very different rituals--chilling evidence of strangulation, decapitation, and bizarre arrangements of human and animal bones. Such practices are well known from Celtic sites in Europe and are now documented for Anatolian Celts as well.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:12:49 am
In 1993, we began excavating in two parts of Gordion's lower town. South of the citadel mound, this part of the site had been heavily fortified beginning in the eighth century B.C. By the third century, the houses that had covered it had been abandoned, but heavy mud-brick walls with stone foundations were still standing. Within our trenches in area A, in the eastern part of the lower town, we found five bodies strewn across an outside ground surface that was dotted with small pits and trash, including rare sherds dated to the third century B.C. The bodies had been left exposed, and eventually were covered by a thin layer of silt eroded from the fortification walls.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:13:07 am
We found the first body only inches below the surface. There was no evidence of damage to the skull or neck of this 20-35-year-old male, who lay sprawled face down. A second male, 30 to 45 years old, lay on his right side, his head twisted back and away from his torso, and his spinal column clearly broken as a result of a neck injury that presumably caused his death. To the north of the two men, a 15-20-year-old female, who also had a broken neck, lay on her right side. A fourth individual, a woman over 50, shows no signs of violence, but the position of her body suggests that she was tossed (rather than carefully laid) in a convenient pit.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:13:27 am
We do not know the precise date of area A's grimmest deposit, the remains of four people thrown into a deep pit. Even if this burial group were later, their treatment is undoubtedly linked to ritual practices that began in third-century Gordion and would represent continuity of Celtic traditions after the town became part of the Roman province of Galatia. The uppermost body was that of a 30-45-year-old female who had been struck by two blows, which fractured her skull. Perhaps these blows did not cause her death, since she was also strangled, as a catastrophic angle in mid-neck attests. Beneath this body was that of a younger woman, aged 18-23 years. She shows no skeletal damage, but two heavy grinding stones weighing down her upper body do not suggest a peaceful interment. Resting to the west of the two women were the bones of a child aged 2-4, its preserved leg detached and reversed so that the knee rests where the hip should be. Because the entire body was disturbed and only partly present, we initially thought that much of the disturbance of small, light bones could be attributed to rodent activities. This relatively rosy picture disappeared when we found that the jaw, which appeared to belong to the cranium of the 2-4 year old, actually came from a 4-8-year-old child. Two neck vertebrae and a single foot bone also appear to be from this older child. It seems most likely that the children had died before the two women and that their bodies had decomposed, perhaps lying on the surface. We do not know why they were later deposited with the women.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:13:40 am
It is clear that several of the people whose remains we found in area A died violently, with strangulation the most common cause of death, whether by hanging or garotting. All of these people were presumably "sacrificed," but we cannot determine the exact circumstances. One possibility is that they were killed as part of Celtic divination rituals. Greco-Roman sources report that the Celtic religious leaders, or Druids, were prophets who killed humans in order to discern the future as revealed by the dying victims' movements. The Gordion victims could have been war captives--a category of people used in divination, but sometimes simply slaughtered.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:13:58 am
Excavation in area B, in the western part of the lower town, revealed clusters of human bones from bodies that had been dismembered. The remains, co-mingled with animal bones, were then carefully rearranged, sometimes in symmetrical patterns, on an outside ground surface with shallow depressions. A small number of sherds on this surface indicate that the area was in use during Hellenistic times, and two distinctive ones place it within the third century B.C. Again, only silt eroded from the fortification walls covers the bone deposits. Bone cluster 1 is the most complex. At the top was the skeleton of a young woman aged 16-21, but where her skull should be there was instead a lower jaw of an adult male over 50, the only bone of this person in the deposit. Beneath the young woman was a 35-45-year-old female whose legs had been detached and placed on either side of her torso. When we excavated bone cluster 1 we thought that the lower woman had been strangled because of the distorted angle within the spinal column. Analysis of the bones showed that we were dead wrong. Instead, the skull and first five vertebrae of the young woman had been placed at the top of the older woman's spinal column. Decapitation is obvious. There are no cut marks on the human bone, but placed around the young woman's feet were animal bones bearing cut marks from butchery. The skull of a 20-35-year-old male was found in bone cluster 2. Decayed wood in the opening at the skull's base through which the spinal cord passes suggests that this individual's severed head had been mounted on a wooden stake for display, a practice documented in Celtic Europe. Scattered around the skull were fragments of an ass's lower jaw, a pig's lower jaw, a cow's upper jaw, two cow pelvic bones, and the foreleg of a dog.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:14:14 am
In bone cluster 4, the skull of a teenager 12-17 years old was carefully placed above a dog skull, pelvic bone, and leg bones. At the bottom of this pile, which rested within a shallow depression, was a human pelvic bone from a 20-35-year-old male. Heavily weathered, it probably lay on the surface for some time before the rest of the bones were placed above it. The teenager, whose sex could not be determined with certainty, had been decapitated; this is clear not only from the fact that the first two vertebrae were still in place beneath the skull, but from damage to the vertebrae consistent with a butchery pattern found in animals, in which the neck is weakened by cutting to the point where it can be forcibly snapped to crack through the bone and remove the head.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:14:29 am
The largest deposit, bone cluster 3, consists of a few human bones, and over 2,100 animal bones and fragments. Three humans are present. A 4-8-year-old child is represented by a lower jaw and some cranial fragments. A fragmentary right pelvic bone came from an adult female aged 35-39, and a pair of pelvic bones represent an adult male aged 40-44. A sacrum (the fused vertebrae forming the back of the pelvis) and several long bones could belong to either adult. The human bones are cracked from weathering and the pelvic bones were gnawed by carnivores--signs that they were exposed on the surface for some time. More startling is a distinctive "spiral fracture" on a femur (probably from the male), which can only happen if the bone is fresh when broken. The shaft of the femur is one of the strongest parts of the skeleton, and to fracture it requires great force; today this type of fracture in an adult most commonly occurs from high-energy collisions such as a car crash. In this case, there is little that could have generated the twisting force great enough to cause such a spiral fracture except a fall from a great height or a direct blow near the time of death. Given that the bone is separated from the rest of the skeleton, a blow seems more likely, and this may be evidence of the offering of marrow to the spirits, a Celtic practice documented by textual evidence from Europe.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:14:41 am
The distribution of body parts represented in bone cluster 3 is revealing. For humans, cranial fragments and pelvic bones predominate. Marks produced by carnivore teeth suggest that the pelvic bones bore meat when they were thrown into this bone pile. A similar pattern is found for horse and pig, both of which had symbolic value for Celtic groups, and in this case they are treated like people rather than like other animals. Bones of domestic cattle, sheep, goats, and ass are far more common, and the distribution of their body parts is more "normal" for animals used as food. If bone cluster 3 represents the remains of a feast, what happened to the three humans in this deposit? A well-known image from the Gundestrop cauldron, a large silver vessel found in Denmark that depicts deities and people and is usually attributed to the Celts, may provide an answer. One of the figures, twice the size of the horsemen and foot soldiers arrayed before him, is dunking a human into a large pot!


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:14:52 am
We might also use European parallels to speculate about the timing of the feast. Based on their age at death, the animals in this large deposit were slaughtered in the fall. And it was in the fall that Celtic groups in Europe celebrated Samhain. Around November 1 each year, herds of domestic animals were brought from their summer pasture and culled, the herdsmen slaughtering weak animals that could not survive the winter. Celts believed that during Samhain the barriers between the natural world and the spirits broke down, and the veil between the present and the future was most transparent. Rituals were performed to foretell future events through various forms of divination, and it may not be too far a stretch to associate bone cluster 3 with this Celtic festival, which we still celebrate as Halloween.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:14:59 am
The human and animal remains in area B document the Galatians' display and manipulation of human heads, a trait well known from texts and archaeological finds in Europe. While these heads are presumably trophies collected by the warrior elite, the importance of another male role, herding, is suggested by the animal remains in bone cluster 3. Both male and female victims, however, played an important role in the rituals conducted.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:15:07 am
Our view of Galatian Gordion has changed considerably over the past few decades. The picture of a simple farming community has been replaced by one of a prosperous town. But when the Galatians settled permanently in central Anatolia, they did not simply shed their old ways and adopt those of the native peoples (presumably Hellenized Phrygians in the case of Gordion), as our discoveries of sacrificial ritual involving humans as well as animals have shown. Major questions remain. For example, was the Galatian presence limited to a religious and military elite or did they form a larger segment of the population that gradually integrated with the local peoples? Our next step will be to compare the material culture of the pre-Galatian and Galatian settlements. If we can then distinguish immigrant from indigenous households, we should be able to discuss issues of ethnicity as well as the ways in which a farming and herding people adapt and prosper in an environment very different from that of their homeland.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:15:24 am
Jeremiah R. Dandoy has been the Gordion Project's zooarchaeologist since 1994. Page Selinsky is a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, focusing on skeletal biology and molecular anthropology. Mary M. Voigt is Chancellor Professor of Anthro-pology at the College of William and Mary. In 1987 she became associate director of the Gordion Project in charge of excavation and survey. The authors would like to thank G. Kenneth Sams, director of the Gordion Project; T. Cuyler Young, Jr., head of the Royal Ontario Museum team; and Keith DeVries.

http://www.archaeology.org/0201/etc/celtic.html


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:15:47 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0201/etc/jpegs/celtic1.jpg)


A young woman's skull and neck vertebrae are juxtaposed with an older woman's upper back vertebrae, which lie above an animal's jaw. The younger woman's hip bones lie atop the older woman's ribs, also shown in photos 8 and 9 further down the page. (Mary M. Voigt/Gordion Project)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:16:11 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0201/etc/jpegs/celtic2.jpg)

This skull of a teenager (12-17 years old) was carefully placed alongside the skull, pelvis, and upper leg bone of a dog. Beneath these was the pelvic bone of another person. (Mary M. Voigt/Gordion Project)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:16:33 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0201/etc/jpegs/celtic3.jpg)

Gordion excavation areas (Sondra Jarvis and Carrie Alblinger/Gordion Project)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:16:58 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0201/etc/jpegs/celtic12.jpg)

Double-headed figure from Gordion resembles more sophisticated ones from Europe. (Mary M. Voigt/Gordion Project)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:17:20 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0201/etc/jpegs/celtic4.jpg)

In 189 B.C., Roman troops pillaging Gordion left smashed pottery strewn across floors, including a painted bowl reconstructed from the debris. (Mary M. Voigt/Gordion Project)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:17:33 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0201/etc/jpegs/celtic5.jpg)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:17:54 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0201/etc/jpegs/celtic6.jpg)


The uppermost of these two women had suffered blows to the head and a broken neck; large grinding stones had been placed on top of the lower woman. (Mary M. Voigt / Sondra Jarvis and Carrie Alblinger, Gordion Project)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:18:15 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0201/etc/jpegs/celtic7.jpg)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:18:40 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0201/etc/jpegs/celtic8.jpg)

Mixing of bones from different individuals was common in the Galatian burials at Gordion. Here, the jaw of one individual was placed at the top of another's spine. (Mary M. Voigt / Sondra Jarvis and Carrie Alblinger, Gordion Project)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:18:54 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0201/etc/jpegs/celtic9.jpg)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:19:39 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0201/etc/jpegs/celtic11.jpg)

A large deposit of animal bones with a few human remains mixed in, bone cluster 3 may be the remains of a Celtic autumn feast. (Mary M. Voigt/Gordion Project)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:19:57 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0201/etc/jpegs/celtic13.jpg)

The Gundestrop cauldron; detail shows a man being put into a cauldron (Malene Thyssen, Wikimedia)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:20:51 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0201/etc/jpegs/celtic14.jpg)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:21:17 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0201/etc/jpegs/celtic10.jpg)

Stone foundations from the Galatian settlement at Gordion belie earlier interpretations of the site as a poor farming community. (Mary M. Voigt/Gordion Project)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 02:21:37 am
http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:46:44 pm
Witches of Cornwall
Volume 61 Number 6, November/December 2008
by Kate Ravilious

Macabre evidence of age-old spells surfaces in an archaeologist's front yard

Over the centuries, many in the British Isles have appealed to witches in times of need--to cure a toothache, concoct a love potion, or curse a neighbor. Witchcraft, the rituals of a number of pagan belief systems, was thought to offer control of the world through rites and incantations. Common as it has been over the past several centuries, the practice is secretive and there are few written records. It tends to be passed down through families and never revealed to outsiders. But archaeologist Jacqui Wood has unearthed evidence of more than 40 witchy rituals beneath her own front yard, bringing to light an unknown branch of witchcraft possibly still practiced today.

Wood's home is in the hamlet of Saveock Water in Cornwall, a county tucked in the far southwest corner of the country. For thousands of years people have raised crops and livestock in its fertile valleys, and its coastline of dramatic cliffs, secluded coves, and pounding surf was once a haunt for smugglers. Cornwall is a place time forgot; steeped in folklore, myth, and legend; and purported to be inhabited by pixies, fairies, and elves. So it should come as no surprise that it has also been home to the dark arts.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:47:41 pm
When I visit Saveock Water it is raining, which adds to its unearthly atmosphere. Wood, a warm lady with sparkling hazel eyes, greets me in her cozy white-washed barn while rain hammers on the roof. She moved to Saveock Water 15 years ago because it was an ideal location for her work in experimental archaeology, replicating ancient techniques, including those used in farming or metallurgy. Since then she has carried out her experiments, such as growing ancient crop varieties, unaware of what lay under her fields. In the late 1990s, Wood decided to do some metalwork research by re-creating an ancient kind of furnace. "I dug down into the ground to construct a shelter close to the furnace and I discovered a clay floor," she says.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:48:05 pm
Wood was excited but busy with other projects and left the find undisturbed for a few years. In 2001, she gathered some archaeology students to explore it further. "It was a nightmare to dig because the field is covered in a soft rush grass with a dense web of roots, and the soil is heavy and laden with water," says Wood.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:48:25 pm
As the group peeled off layers of turf, they discovered the clay floor was an extensive man-made platform--probably a foundation for a group of ancient dwellings. During a break in the rain, Wood takes me out to have a look. What used to be a half-acre marshy field is now a slippery clay surface, covered with small plastic crates protecting finds. Based on flint fragments embedded in the clay, a Danish specialist dated the site to the late Mesolithic, around 8,500 years ago.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:48:41 pm
But as Wood and her team excavated the platform over the next few seasons, unusual features began to emerge. They came across strange rectangular holes, about 15 by 10 inches, in the clay. "At first we thought they must be postholes or something," says Wood. But the first of the holes, about 6 inches deep, was lined with white feathers. The pits cut through the clay platform, so Wood knew that they had to date to a later time, but only an expensive radiocarbon test could pin it down. "We guessed it might have been a bird-plucking pit, a common farming practice at the turn of the 19th century," says Wood.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:48:55 pm
But that couldn't be the case--Wood found that the feathers were still attached to the skin, which had been laid in the pit with the feathers facing inward. A bird expert from the local zoo confirmed they came from a swan. On top of the swan skin, Wood found a pile of pebbles and a number of claws from different birds. She later learned that the stones came from a coastal region 15 miles away, though no one knows why they were brought from so far. Someone had gone to considerable trouble to gather the contents of this pit. That season, Wood and her colleagues found eight pits, two of which contained odd collections of bird parts, and six of which had been emptied, but with a few telltale feathers and stones left behind.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:49:19 pm
"Over the last 30 years I've been quick to dismiss ritual as an explanation for unusual archaeological finds," says Wood. "It usually means that the archaeologists can't think of anything better. So now it seems especially ironic that I end up with a site absolutely full of ritual."


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:49:34 pm
More unusual finds came in 2005. Sandwiched between two of the rectangular pits was a round pit with a swan-feather lining. On top of the swan feathers nestled 55 eggs, seven of which contained chicks that would have been close to hatching. The shells of the eggs had dissolved, but the moist environment had preserved their membranes. Remains of magpies--birds associated with luck and superstition even today--had been placed on each side of the eggs.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:49:53 pm
By that time Wood was convinced that only witchcraft could explain her unusual finds, but no one had ever heard of anything like this. Radiocarbon tests revealed the swan skins dated to around A.D. 1640, the time of civil war in England and a very dangerous period to be practicing witchcraft. "Any sort of pagan worship was classified as witchcraft at that time, and punishable by death," says Wood. "If caught, they would have been burned at the stake." To make things worse, swans were royal symbols and property of the crown, so killing a swan was doubly risky.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:50:20 pm
Witch trials were common during the 16th and 17th centuries, and sometimes a few whispers were enough to see someone hanged. "During the 1650s more than 25 people were sent to Launceston Gaol [prison], in Cornwall, after a woman was accused by her neighbors of being a witch. She promptly implicated others in her alleged practice of the dark arts, some of whom were executed," says Jason Semmens, assistant curator at the Horsham Museum in Sussex and an expert on witchcraft in Cornwall during the 17th century.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:50:35 pm
And yet witchcraft remained popular, says Marion Gibson of Exeter University, a specialist on 16th- and 17th-century paganism. "Every village would have had people thought to be skilled in magic in one way or another and people in the area would go to them for their specialist services, just as we might go to a lawyer or plumber today."


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:50:52 pm
Wood leads me to one of the pits and pulls the plastic lid off. I get a sense of the shock she must have felt when she found them. Swan feathers line the pit and muddy, wrinkled egg membranes sit on top. A shiver runs down my spine as I imagine someone coming here in the dead of night, digging a hole, and carefully placing these offerings in it. What made them desperate enough to risk death if caught?


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:51:14 pm
One explanation is that some of the pits contained offerings to St. Bridget (or Bride) of Ireland, the patron saint of babies and infants, who may be associated with the pagan goddess Brigid. "My theory is that maybe if you got married and didn't become pregnant in the first year, you might make an offering to St. Bride in a feather pit," says Wood. Women who then became pregnant might have had to empty their pits and burn the contents, she postulates.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:51:29 pm
Wood and her colleagues had further spooky discoveries ahead. Not far from the three pits, they uncovered the remains of a spring-fed pool, carefully lined with white quartz, and containing 128 textile scraps, six medieval straight pins, shoe parts, heather branches (associated with luck), fingernail clippings, human hair, and--it doesn't get more witch-like--part of a cauldron.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:51:48 pm
"Two of the pieces of fabric contained wool and silk, indicating they originally belonged to someone of high status," says Wood. Others were coarser and may have come from those of lower status. Looking at the textile fragments stored in little plastic boxes in Wood's barn, it is hard to believe they are 350 years old--the vivid blues, golden yellows, and vibrant greens were preserved by the moist environment.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:52:06 pm
Further excavation uncovered a stone-lined drain and a second pool that only fills in winter. Wood realized that the pools were much older than their contents, and that this site may have been special to people for thousands of years. Based on stratigraphic evidence, she believes the quartz-lined pools are 6,000 years old. "The white quartz would have made the pools glow in the moonlight, and we think they may have been very special, a place of ritual for people in those times," she speculates.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:53:01 pm
If the pools do date back that far, they retained their sacred status throughout the ages, as by the 17th century people were using them as a place of offering, throwing in personal fragments (such as fabric and hair) for good fortune. However, the practice stopped in the late 17th century, when the crown paid locals to fill in the pools (along with other "holy" wells in Cornwall) to prevent pagan rituals.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:53:18 pm
Now that Wood has rediscovered the pools and word of them has spread, they have again become a special site for those of mystical inclination. While I chat with Wood in her barn, a homeopath, a practitioner of alternative medicine, arrives to collect water from the spring. He believes it has unique properties and comes every day to collect his family's drinking water.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:53:41 pm
Experts are baffled by the finds. The closest similar example of witchcraft is the witch-bottle, popular during the 17th century. "You could retaliate against someone who bewitched you by placing some of your own urine, hair, and nail clippings into a bottle and burying it. As the contents decayed, so would the witch, and her curse would suffer and be lifted," explains Semmens.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:54:05 pm
Present-day witches, shamans, and druids have taken interest in the site, and visit to offer their explanations for Wood's discoveries. Mike Slater, a witch from a pagan community in Bristol, thinks the pits and pool offerings have an amorous motive. "It has long been known that swans pair for life. Also nail parings and hair are commonly used in love spells," he says.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:54:35 pm
Wood's 2008 field season brought more unusual discoveries. "We have been uncovering some extraordinary animal pits," says Wood. One was lined with the skin of a black cat and contained 22 eggs, all with chicks close to hatching, in addition to cat claws, teeth, and whiskers. Another held a dog skin, dog teeth, and a baked pig jaw. The week prior to my arrival, Wood's students uncovered a pit that contained a mysterious seven-inch iron disk with a swan skin on one side and animal fur on the other. The biggest shock of all came from the radiocarbon dates for these pits. The cat pit dated to the 18th century, while the dog pit dated to the 1950s. "And I doubt it just suddenly stopped in the 1950s," says Wood. "It is plausible that it could still be continuing now."


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:54:53 pm
It is not clear whether the pits were the work of a single family or a countrywide guild of witches. One lead came from a conversation between a member of Wood's excavation team and some locals in a pub. They recalled that there was a family, the Burnetts, reputed to be witches, that lived near Wood's house. Two sisters resided there until the 1980s, so it is possible the dog pit could have been their work. Today a relative of the Burnett sisters is still there, but Wood--for whatever reason--hasn't yet plucked up the courage to visit.

Kate Ravilious is a science writer based in York, England.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:55:13 pm
http://www.archaeology.org/0811/etc/witches.html


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:55:40 pm
(http://www.archaeology.org/0811/etc/jpegs/witches1.jpg)

Archaeologist Jacqui Wood holds a fragment of a cauldron unearthed from a buried spring-fed pool near her home. This and other artifacts she has found point to a long history of ritual and witchcraft. (Manuel Cohen)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:56:38 pm
(http://www.archaeology.org/0811/etc/jpegs/witches2.jpg)

While digging a hole for another project, Wood discovered a late Mesolithic clay platform in her field. She found that small pits had been dug into the platform at a later date, and contained bizarre collections of items including swan skins, pebbles, and bird claws. (Manuel Cohen)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:57:21 pm
(http://www.archaeology.org/0811/etc/jpegs/witches3.jpg)

Many of the ritual pits Wood and her colleagues unearthed, which date from the 17th century to just decades ago, contained eggs. The shells have dissolved, but the membranes remain, as do feathers of chicks that were close to hatching. (Manuel Cohen)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:58:16 pm
(http://www.archaeology.org/0811/etc/jpegs/witches4.jpg)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:58:57 pm
(http://www.archaeology.org/0811/etc/jpegs/witches5.jpg)

Two spring-fed pools on Wood's land were places of ritual offering. Visitors seeking good fortune deposited everything from scraps of cloth, to straightpins, hair, heather branches, and nail clippings. (Manuel Cohen)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 30, 2009, 11:59:34 pm
(http://www.archaeology.org/0811/etc/jpegs/witches6.jpg)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:01:44 am
An American Witch Bottle
"Uncanny Archaeology"
by Marshall J. Becker

Evidence for the practice of "white witchcraft" in colonial Pennsylvania

Witchcraft conjures instant pictures of sinister beings, malevolent magic, and eerie happenings. Almost every American school child has heard of the Salem witch trials, and belief in sorcery still prospers in the many cosmopolitan crossroads of contemporary America. But this long tradition of magic and ritual rarely has been recorded. Even more scarce are artifacts that provide tangible evidence for the existence of witchcraft practices.

A curious bottle unearthed during recent excavations in Governor Printz State Park in Essington, Pennsylvania, provides a glimpse of early American witchcraft--unique evidence of a special "white witchcraft" hitherto known only from England. This squat piece of glasswork with a bright gold patina over its dark olive color had been buried upside down in a small hole. Two objects were deposited under the shoulder of the bottle: a piece of a long thin bone from some medium-sized bird, possibly a partridge, and a redware rim sherd from a small black-glazed bowl. The bottle contained six round-headed pins and had been stoppered tightly with a whittled wooden plug.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:02:56 am
What makes this bottle and its contents curious are their uniqueness; no other bottle with similar contents has ever been found in the United States. On study, it proved to be a type of "witch bottle" that is familiar from English contexts dating to the 17th century. Although the American example probably dates to the 18th century--the bottle was manufactured around 1740 and may have been buried about 1748--the parallels are clear enough to establish its functions as an anti-witch charm. Such white magic was practiced widely in colonial America, enough so, that Increase Mather (1639-1732), the well-known minister and author, inveighed against it as early as 1684. His son, Cotton Mather (1663-1728), advised in favor of its use in particular situations. Since Cotton Mather was the most celebrated of all American Puritans, his publications must have had widespread impact and reflected the attitudes of the day.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:03:18 am
Witchcraft was regarded as a sufficiently serious problem in the early days of the colonies that various pieces of legislation were enacted against it. In May of 1718, Pennsylvania's legislators passed "An Act for the Advancement of Justice," which incorporated verbatim "An Act Against Conjuration, Witchcraft, and Dealing with Evil and Wicked Spirits" promulgated in England in 1685, the first year of James II's reign. This prudent legislation did not stem the tide, however, for as we learn from the work of Stevenson W. Fletcher, "Following an especially sever outbreak of the devilish machinations of witches in Chester County, in 1719, a commission of justices of the county court was empowered to enquire into 'all witchcrafts, enchantments, sorceries and magic arts.'" Even Governor William Penn presided over the trial of a witch at a meeting of the Provincial Assembly in 1684. With the coming of the urban-industrial revolution and the consequent spread of scientific methods, public concern with witchcraft began to abate. Although it lingered on in byways and in certain rural areas as it still does today, witchcraft had significantly diminished by 1800. There is very little artifactual or written evidence of it after 1720.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:03:41 am
The Essington witch bottle from the Governor Printz Park excavations conducted in 1976 on Tinicum Island in the Delaware River affords an interesting example of the perpetuation of witchcraft into the mid-18th century. This is the only such bottle which comes from securely established archaeological context. The bottle itself, its contents, inverted position, and placement next to the house where it was found all point to the magical powers such bottles were thought to possess. In general, witch bottles seem to have served two functions: they could serve as prophylactic amulets during the building of a house, or they could serve as countermeasures against special acts of witchcraft. In the former case, bottles generally were buried beneath thresholds or hearthstones or within the confines of structures. The 19th-century scholar Ludwig Hanselmann believed that witch bottles were related to the early pagan custom of foundation sacrifices. When used as a device against witchcraft practices, they were buried either outside or thrown into a stream.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:04:03 am
The witch bottle from Tinicum Island appears to be this second sort. It comes from a context definitely outside the original foundation of the house associated with it. This structure is believed to be the "Printzhof"--originally the residence of the Swedish governor Johan Printz, who, between 1643 and 1653, headed the first colonial government of what is now Pennsylvania. Printz had been sent to the New World to do business with the Lenape and Susquehanock and to lead Swedish traders on the South (now Delaware) River in wresting the trade with Native Americans from the Dutch. He settled on Tinicum Island, 24 kilometers downstream from modern central Philadelphia, and built a residence in what is now Governor Printz State Park. While excavating the remains of this structure, we came upon the witch bottle which dates from a considerably later phase of the building's occupation. The land on which Printzhof stood passed from the Printz family into the hands of others and ultimately into the possession of Quaker settlers by the name of Taylor; the Taylors held the land until 1800 when this parcel was divided into three smaller units. In 1748, one of the Taylors, then resident of the house, may have planted the witch bottle during rebuilding of the old foundation.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:04:23 am
Exactly why the bottle was buried remains open to conjecture, but the ethnohistorical parallels make the guesswork rather minimal. The Essington bottle was quite probably filled with urine when buried, and it is possible that the urine and six pins were boiled together before they were placed in the bottle. Such ingredients were antidotes to pain thought to have been induced by witchcraft. Urinary problems were common both in England and America during the 17th and 18th centuries, and it is reasonable to suppose their symptoms often were attributed to the work of local witches. The victims of bladder stones or other urinary ailments would have used a witch bottle to transfer the pains of the illness from themselves back to the witch. The pins or nails often were used to symbolize the victim's pain; the boiling of the ingredients served to redirect the sufferer's symptoms back to the witch. In some cases, this might in turn reveal the identity of the witch.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:04:45 am
Such sympathetic magic betrays a primitive understanding of the laws of causality as well as bodily functions. Presumably, the victim's urine had become contaminated by "blood" from the witch, and the assembly of a witch bottle could convey the contaminant back into the witch's own system. In this case, the victims were regarding their urine as a waste product no longer integral to his or her body--the reverse of the practice in many credulous cultures, where urine, feces, nail parings, and hair clippings were regarded as vital parts of the body which had to be disposed of carefully lest malevolent people use them to deprive the owner of strength or health.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:05:15 am
The Essington bottle contained six intact pins, probably because six is a number traditionally effective against witches; witness the six-pointed "hex" signs still in use today in rural parts of Pennsylvania. The potsherd has no parallels with other known English witch bottles, but the associated bird bones are familiar, although not from specifically English examples. In parts of Europe, bird bones are often found in association with all types of vessels buried with magical items. Animal bones, however, are a long-standing ingredient in magical charms, and the presence of one beneath this bottle is not particularly surprising. The inverted position of the bottle also has many English parallels and doubtless symbolizes the reversing or "overturning" of the witch's intentions.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:06:03 am
Compared with some English witch bottles, the American example has only modest contents. Quite commonly the pins found in English witch bottles were lodged in felt hearts. The pins even may have been arranged in magical patterns, for example, to form a hex sign. A bottle recovered from a construction site on Pottery Street in Suffolk, England, constitutes the richest witchcraft find. A stoneware bottle, in the usual inverted position, held a wide array off contents--some duplicated other Suffolk finds, but others were entirely unique. The bottle contained a piece of felt that had probably once been heart-shaped, six brass pins, human hair, and roughly 40 badly rusted nails of odd sizes. In addition to all of these traditional ingredients, it contained some more unusual objects including a common two-pronged table fork made of iron, more than 40 small fragments of glass, 24 brass studs with convex heads--possibly upholstery pins--and fragments of four flat wooden spills pointed at both ends and placed in the bottle last. This rather well-filled bottle had been stoppered with a plug of hard clay-like material exactly like another example found eroded on the banks of the Thames River in London. Analysis revealed that the Suffolk plug contained phosphate. The plug might have come from a trash heap or outhouse--or again, may have been originally permeated with the urine seeping out of the bottle. Over time the contents of witch bottles appear to have diminished in number until finally they contained only urine.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:06:25 am
Glass or terracotta bottles, used as witch bottles, have an interesting history exclusive of their role in magical activities. The one found on Tinicum Island was dark green covered with a bright gold patina, a result of its age and decomposition of the glass surface. This bottle also has a large, smooth "push-up" or indentation in its base. The shape of the bottle and the smooth surface of the push-up help date the bottle as having been made some time between 1730 and 1750, a period when manufacturing techniques were becoming more sophisticated. But most of the English witch bottles which are similar in function to the Essington one are not glass bottles at all: they are largely bellarmines, a highly popular type of 17th-century stoneware container purportedly named after Roberto Cardinal Bellarmino (1542-1621), a well-known conservative theologian much despised in Protestant Germany where these vessels were produced. Bellarmines are distinctive because they are typically adorned with the figure of a bearded man resembling the face of a warlock, one probable reason for their use as witch bottles. Large-bellied and narrow-necked, bellarmines served as drinking jugs and were imported to London and East Anglia to the north of London in considerable numbers during the 17th century. They also may have been used in the fabrication of witch bottles simply because of their sturdy construction. (See "Opening a Witch Bottle" for an example of a bellarmine.)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:06:57 am
Another variety of witchcraft container is the glass phial which turns up in 18th-century contexts as a charm against evil creatures. Steeple-shaped phials were also buried upside down and have many antecedents in pre-17th-century contexts. Similar charms, for example, were buried by the Saxons in "wall roots" or foundations, and are mentioned in the famous volume of medieval treatises gathered together as "Saxon Leechdoms." Leechcraft, the art of healing, began as a complex mélange of herbal knowledge, folk remedies, and magic. One particular transitional bottle, worth noting, dates to the last quarter of the 17th century and is a bellarmine with horseshoe-like impression in place of the usual bearded face. This type was probably made when English manufacturers were successfully challenging German producers of bellarmines, a time when the traditional form was beginning to degenerate. After 1700, the shape of these jugs continued to change until they became similar to modern-day tankards. One Suffolk piece dating to the end of the 17th century has a triangular stamp replacing the mask and is decorated with stylized medallions.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:07:15 am
It stands to reason that the American witch bottle from Pennsylvania would have its closest parallels with London, since the mother country's influence on the colonies was strong and the Taylor family had its English origins in the Midlands. But what of England and the continent? While no direct relationship appears to exist between English witch bottles and magical charms found in Europe, there are many parallels. Jugs, pots, and other "magical" vessels have been recovered in Germany, Holland, and throughout Scandinavia. On the whole, these vessels are found empty. But odd items are often discovered in them, including animal bones such as bird bones. The best known Continental examples are 15th century in date, but the practices they represent persisted until much later on both sides of the Channel.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:07:39 am
Examples of witchcraft can be found in a remarkable variety of cultures and can be traced back to the very earliest phases of history. The 17th-century Englishman might seek to dispel a "weakness" by boring a hole in a living oak tree and placing his hair cuttings or nail clippings in it; or he might seek to cure himself of some ailment by burying his "water" in an ant's nest or by pouring it on a dung heap. Such primitive efforts to contend with human frailty may seem amusing to us now, but they represent the poignant efforts of a pre-scientific era to lessen real suffering. Indeed, to judge from the concentration of white magic charms in and around London during the 17th century, it is possible that the ailments which occasioned their use had become more frequent. Such an increase in pains and illnesses may have been the result of changes in diet or some other aspect of lifestyle. It is known, for example, that smoking increased significantly during this period, although there is no way of knowing that this habit was linked to specific ills related to witch bottles. Witches of the colonial era kept themselves busy on both sides of the Atlantic, afflicting innocent people with discomforts and diseases. The strong belief in these witches traveled with our ancestors over the sea to America and persisted through the centuries.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:08:22 am
Marshall J. Becker of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is author of "An Update on Colonial Witch Bottles," Pennsylvania Archaeologist 75:2 (2005), pp. 12-23. This article was originally published in ARCHAEOLOGY, March/April 1980, pp. 18-23. References noted in the original publication included G. Burr, Narratives of the Witchcraft Cases, 1648-1708 (1914); S. Fletcher, Pennsylvania Agriculture and Rural Life, 1640-1840 (1950); and E. Gummere, Witchcraft and Quakerism (1908).

http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/witch_bottle.html


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:09:15 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/witch_bottle1.jpg)

The Salem witch trials of 1692-1693 are well known. (Creative Commons)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:10:14 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/witch_bottle2.jpg)

An early publication on witchcraft, printed in Boston.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:11:54 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/witch_bottle3.jpg)

Cotton Mather wrote several works about witchcraft, defending the Salem trials in The Wonders of the Invisible World.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:12:20 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/witch_bottle4.jpg)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:13:07 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/witch_bottle5.jpg)

Witchcraft trials were not only a New England phenomenon. Pennsylvania governor William Penn presided over a trial in 1684.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:13:52 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/witch_bottle6.jpg)

A 1692 Philadelphia publication debating the pursuit of "those that have been accused of witchcraft."


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:14:27 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/witch_bottle7.jpg)

Swedish governor Johan Printz


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:15:16 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/witch_bottle8.jpg)

Sealed with a carved wooden plug (center), the Essington witch bottle contained pins (left), and was accompanied by a pottery sherd and bird bone (right). (Courtesy Marshall J. Becker)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:15:56 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/witch_bottle9.jpg)

The Essington witch bottle; deep "push-up" was a clue to its date (Courtesy Marshall J. Becker)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:16:45 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/witch_bottle10.jpg)

Six-pointed stars in an Allentown, Pennsylvania, hex sign


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:17:24 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/witch_bottle11.jpg)

Detail from Claes Van Visscher's panoramic view of London in 1616.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:53:13 am
Opening a Witch Bottle
"Uncanny Archaeology"
by Samir S. Patel

Around the time of the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts, belief in witchcraft also persisted in England and continental Europe. Witch bottles--small containers filled with personal items, sealed, and buried--are one way witchcraft appears in the archaeological record. The belief was that the buried bottle absorbed a spell, tormenting the witch that cast it. When they are found today, they are almost always broken or empty, but in Greenwich in 2004, workers found a rare, unopened example, a stoneware bellarmine jar. They heard rattling and splashing inside, so the bottle found its way to retired chemist Alan Massey, an old hand at examining witch bottles. It was an unusual opportunity to bring all the tools of modern science (laboratory science and high-tech elemental analysis--our own witchery!) to the study of 17th-century witchcraft.

X-rays revealed pins and nails stuck in the jar's neck (it had been buried upside-down), and a CT scan showed that it was about half-filled with liquid. Using a long needle, scientists penetrated the cork and extracted some of the brew inside. Using proton nuclear magnetic resonance and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, they determined the contents: urine. The bodily fluid was spiked with a metabolite of nicotine, indicating a smoker, and sulfur, the hellish brimstone of the Book of Revelation. After removing the cork, and taking in what was likely a rather unpleasant smell, Massey inventoried the contents: 12 iron nails (one of which was driven through a leather heart), 8 brass pins, clumps of hair, 10 manicured fingernail clippings, and a little clot of what looked like bellybutton lint. Textual sources confirm that these were not unusual items. According to British Archaeology, where the find was first reported, a court record from 1682 documents the recommendation of an apothecary: "take a quart of your Wive's urine, the paring of her Nails, some of her Hair, and such like, and boyl them well in a Pipkin." Apparently, sometimes when you have attracted the attention of a witch, you have to get your hands dirty and resort to a little of the craft yourself.

http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/opening_witch_bottle/


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:55:17 am
Fine Wine & a ****-Poor Vintage
Volume 53 Number 6, November/December 2000
by Spencer P.M. Harrington

Two corked seventeenth-century wine bottles, one found on a wreck off the coast of the Netherlands, the other in the foundation of a demolished house in England, have yielded strikingly different contents: a rare example of 350-year-old Portuguese wine, and a putrid concoction of urine and hair designed to harm witches who cast spells.

The wine, possibly the private stash of a naval officer, was recovered from a Dutch warship sunk in the Wadden Sea, a shallow sound between the North Sea and the Netherlands coast. The onion-shaped green bottle is among the oldest corked bottles ever found with its wine intact.

The wreck was investigated by the Netherlands Institute for Ship and underwater Archaeology (NISA), a government-sponsored team that since the late 1980s has been conducting surveys of the Wadden Sea to inventory the more than 500 vessels, mainly Dutch, that are thought to have sunk there. "The Wadden Sea was an enormous anchorage between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries," says Arent Vos, head of NISA's Archaeological Diving Unit.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:55:49 am
A panel of six tasters, mostly wine journalists, convened by Dutch wine historian Lucette M. Faber, recently gathered to taste the wine. Faber said it tasted like "an old Madeira with an aroma of marmalade and nuts. I also tasted elderberry juice and saw it in the wine's pinkish color." Wines mixed with elderberry juice are known to have been made at the time in the Douro region of northeast Portugal. Chemical analysis indicated a high level of acidity that could well have been caused by the addition of the juice. Since most wines during this period were shipped in casks, and only the finest were bottled, Faber speculates that the wine belonged to one of the ship's officers.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:56:20 am
Meanwhile, the English wine bottle, discovered in 1993 in Reigate, 20 miles south of London, and initially thought to contain wine, yielded instead a fetid liquid and nine tiny brass pins, each bent into an L-shape. The find was identified as a witch bottle, used in England between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries to protect against evil spirits and to punish witches who had cast hexes. Now chemical analysis by Alan Massey and Tony Edmonds, both of Loughborough University, has proved what folk tradition had long held: that witch bottles were full of urine. Though 200 such bottles have been recovered, almost every excavated bottle had leaked, making it impossible to identify their liquid contents.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:57:14 am
The primary use of the bottles was counter-witchcraft, says Brian Hoggard, a Worcester University graduate student who is writing a thesis on them. Victims of spells would urinate in bottles, add pins and perhaps some hair, and then bury them under their homes, casting a vengeful curse on the witches who had injured them in the first place. "The curse was intended to make the unfortunate object of it feel as if they were weeing with a bladder full of bent pins," says Alan Massey. Hoggard maintains a website on English folk magic that, in addition to witch bottles, discusses dried cats and horse skulls (www.apotropaios.co.uk).

http://www.archaeology.org/0011/newsbriefs/wine.html


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:57:59 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0011/newsbriefs/jpegs/wine.jpeg)

Similar vessels, different contents: Dutch bottle, left (Courtesy NISA), yielded red wine; English bottle, right (Alan Massey), urine.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 12:59:33 am
When Spells Worked Magic
Volume 56 Number 2, March/April 2003
by Christopher A. Farone

In ancient times, a curse could help you win in the stadium or the courts, and a plea addressed to a demon could bring you the woman of your dreams

During an emergency excavation at the site of a new parking garage in Rome's Piazza Euclid, archaeologist Marina Piranomonte and her colleagues found the remains of a fountain dedicated to a minor and very ancient Roman goddess, Anna Perenna. Embedded in the layers of mud and debris they came upon a cache of voodoo dolls and lead curse tablets that had apparently been hidden there sometime in the fourth century A.D. Many of the dolls had been placed in lead canisters, one of which yielded a thumbprint, probably of a woman, according to the police fingerprint laboratory. The discovery supports the impression we get from ancient literary sources that women often acted as professional witches. In his novel Metamorphoses, for example, the second-century A.D. author Apuleius describes in vivid and undoubtedly exaggerated detail a witch at work:


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:00:31 am
First she arranged her deadly laboratory with its customary apparatus, setting out spices of all sorts, unintelligibly lettered metal plaques, the surviving remains of ill-omened birds, and numerous pieces of mourned and even buried corpses: here noses and fingers, there flesh-covered spikes from crucified bodies, elsewhere the preserved gore of murder victims and mutilated skulls wrenched from the teeth of wild beasts. Then she recited a charm over some pulsating entrails and made offerings with various liquids.... Next she bound and knotted those hairs together in interlocking braids and put them to burn on live coals along with several kinds of incense.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:01:12 am
Behind this lurid scene set in far-off Thessaly, there are undoubtedly some true-to-life facts, for magic was pervasive in the classical world. Indeed, everything for the ancients, from impotence to political assassination, might be caused by magic. The Roman poet Ovid wondered, in the late first century B.C., if his lovemaking ability had been cursed: "Was I the wretched victim of charms and herbs, or did a witch curse my name upon a red wax image and stick fine pins into the middle of the liver?" The historian Tacitus records chilling discoveries made at the time of the death of Germanicus, grandson of Augustus and heir of the emperor Tiberius, in A.D. 19:

    explorations in the floor and walls [of his house] brought to light the remains of human bodies, spells, curses, leaden tablets en-graved with the name Germanicus, charred and blood-smeared ashes, and others of the implements by which it is believed the living soul can be devoted to the powers of the grave.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:01:46 am
In the end, Roman authorities executed a woman named Martina for murdering Germanicus, while the senator Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso and his wife, Plancina, thought to be behind the deed, were forced to commit suicide. Magic was clearly not something to be trifled with. What, then, was the witch who left us her thumbprint at the fountain of Anna Perenna in Rome doing? There are two strong possibilities: she was engaged either in cursing people or in magically compelling them to fall in love.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:02:29 am
The magical paraphernalia of Apuleius' witch and Martina, who allegedly attacked Germanicus, included tablets inscribed with strange letters or the victim's name. Archaeologists have found hundreds of these. The Greeks called them "curses that bind tight," and the late Latin term for them meant "curses that fix or fasten someone." To make such a "binding spell" one would inscribe the victim's name and a formula on a lead tablet, fold it up, often pierce it with a nail, and then deposit it in a grave or a well or a fountain, placing it in the realm of ghosts or underworld divinities who might be asked to enforce the spell. These curses seem to have been a Greek invention, and many focus on that most Greek of concerns, competition, especially in athletic and legal contests. A Roman-era curse tablet found at Carthage, for example, calls on demons to:


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:02:56 am
...bind every limb and every sinew of Victoricus, the charioteer of the Blue team...and of the horses he is about to race.... Bind their legs, their onrush, their bounding, their running, blind their eyes so they cannot see and twist their soul and heart so that they cannot breathe. Just as this rooster has been bound by its feet, hands and head, so bind the legs and hands and head and heart of Victoricus, the charioteer of the Blue team, for tomorrow.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:03:28 am
The courts of law were another competitive venue for the use of binding spells, which focus on the victims' minds and words rather than their bodies. Take for example this curse tablet from Athens:

    Theagenes the butcher. I bind his tongue, his soul and the speech he is practicing. Pyrrhias. I bind his tongue, his soul and the speech he is practicing. I bind the wife of Pyrrhias, her tongue and soul. I also bind Kerkion, the butcher, and Dokimos, the butcher, their tongues, their souls and the speech they are practicing. I bind Kineas, his tongue, his soul and the speech he is practicing with Theagenes. And Pherekles. I bind his tongue, his soul and the evidence that he gives for Theagenes. All these (i.e. their names) I bind, I hide, I bury, I nail down. If they lay any counterclaim before the arbitrator or the court, let them seem to be of no account, either in word or deed.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:03:45 am
The lawsuit that prompted this curse apparently involves the testimony of three butchers (or perhaps cooks) and their friends, which this curse is intended to silence. The curse also binds the "tongue and soul" of Pyrrhias' wife, but there is no specific mention of her testimony since women were normally not permitted to testify in Athenian courts. The author of this tablet nonetheless feels compelled to bind the wife as well, fearing no doubt that her thoughts and her advice to her husband might help him win his case.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:04:10 am
Most pre-Roman binding curses, riddled with spelling and grammatical errors and often idiosyncratic formulas, seem to have been inscribed by amateurs. There are, however, hints that professional sorcerers were inscribing binding spells in Athens as early as 400 B.C., as a passage from Plato's Republic suggests:

    And then there are the begging priests and soothsayers, who going to the doors of the wealthy persuade them that...if anyone wants to harm an enemy, whether the enemy is a just or unjust man, they [the priests and soothsayers], at very little expense, will do it with incantations and binding spells, since [they claim] they have persuaded the gods to do their bidding.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:04:34 am
A group of lead effigies dated securely to Plato's lifetime corroborates the philosopher's testimony. More elaborate than the spell cast against the butchers, each of these effigies, probably made by a professional sorcerer, is inscribed with a name or names and then entombed in a lead box, the lid of which is also inscribed with names. The first of this group to be discovered was found in a grave in the Kerameikos, one of Athens' ancient cemeteries, more than forty years ago. Its right leg is inscribed with the name Mnesimachos, and the lid of the coffin lists nine men, including Mnesimachos, and closes with a catch-all phrase: "and anyone else who is either a legal advocate or a witness with him." Three more figurines, of similar manufacture, were recently discovered in a grave near the first one. Of the four people named on these figurines, three--Theozotides, Mikines, and Mnesimachos--have extremely rare names, and can in all probability be identified with Athenian politicians who were prominent around 400 B.C. and who all were apparently prosecuted in this same period in lawsuits by men using speeches ghostwritten by the famous orator Lysias. Could it be that the same wealthy person or persons who hired Lysias to write speeches prosecuting these men in the courts also paid another kind of professional--a sorcerer--to cast spells against them, so they would be magically bound and unable to give their own speeches in defense?


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:04:52 am
This kind of cursing, especially in competitive situations, was as persistent as it was pervasive in the Greek and Roman world. To what degree was it tolerated by society? A character in one of Plato's dialogues, penned in the early fourth century B.C., asserts that "if it be held that a man is acting like an injurer by the use of spells, incantations, or any such mode of poisoning, if he be a prophet or diviner, he shall be put to death." It is clear that Plato's character thinks that magic, as a technique or technology, should be punished, but this is stated nowhere in ancient Greek or Roman law, which focuses instead on the use to which magic is put--if you murder someone with poison or a magic spell, the punishment is death. Eight centuries after Plato, the future St. Augustine could recall in his Confessions that as a youth he had refused a magician's offer to guarantee him victory in a poetry competition. Was he afraid of the legal or moral ramifications? Apparently not. He refused the offer, he says, because it would have involved killing an animal. It seems that, like the bound rooster used in the binding curse against the Carthaginian charioteer, the proposed ritual would have bound or impaled a living creature.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:05:15 am
What about the recent finds from underneath the Piazza Euclid in Rome? Were they curses designed to bind a rival or an enemy and prevent them from defeating the witch or one of her clients in an upcoming lawsuit or race? The Roman witch does seem to have used a similar technique: for each ensemble, she molded a single figure of varying materials (including wax and flour) and then placed the effigy in a lead canister. In at least one case she inscribed the canister with the name Antonius. But we must be careful not to jump to conclusions, because in the Roman period such effigies were adapted for a number of other uses and venues outside the realm of competition, particularly in elaborate erotic spells to force a person--usually a woman--to lust after a man.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:05:31 am
It is difficult for modern observers to understand the close connection between erotic magic and curses, until we realize that with few exceptions, eros, or erotic love, was understood by most ancient Greeks and Romans to be an accursed thing that attacked its human victims with torches and whips, made them ill, and could in some cases kill them. The second-century A.D. Greek physician Galen spends a good deal of time refuting the popular idea that erotic seizure is actually caused by the attack of a god who holds burning torches to the victim.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:05:48 am
Since erotic magic aims at inducing such uncontrollable seizures in the victim, it is not surprising that images of hostile attack, whipping, and fire regularly appear in such spells. Take for example this spell inscribed on a potsherd found in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, that may have been heated up during a ritual:

    Burn, torch the soul of Allous, her female body, her limbs, until she leaves the household of Apollonius. Lay Allous low with fever, with unceasing sickness, lack of appetite, senselessness.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:06:25 am
Also from Egypt, at the site of Eshmunen, is the following spell, inscribed in Greek on a lead tablet that was then rolled up around some strands of brownish red hair and inserted into the mouth of a mummy, to whom the spell was apparently addressed:

    Aye, lord demon, attract, inflame, destroy, burn, cause her to swoon from love as she is being burnt, inflamed. Goad the tortured soul, the heart of Karosa...until she leaps forth and comes to Apalos...out of passion and love, in this very hour, immediately, immediately; quickly, quickly...do not allow Karosa herself...to think of her [own] husband, her child, drink, food, but let her come melting for passion and love and intercourse, especially yearning for the intercourse of Apalos.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:06:44 am
The most elaborate and disconcerting of all Greek efforts in this regard is a small clay effigy of a woman, probably from Antinoopolis, Egypt, which has been dated to the third or fourth century A.D. The effigy kneels with her feet tied together and her arms bound behind her back, and she has been methodically pierced with thirteen pins: one in the top of the head, one in the mouth, one in each eye and in each ear, one each in the solar plexus, ****, and anus, and one in the palm of each hand and in the sole of each foot. The effigy was then wrapped in the inscribed lead tablet and sealed in the pot. One would assume that this effigy was designed to torture a lifelong enemy. The inscription, however, reveals that a man named Sarapammon made or commissioned it in hopes of forcing a woman named Ptolemais to abandon her haughty demeanor and make love to him:


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:06:59 am
Lead Ptolemais, whom Aias bore, the daughter of Horigenes, to me. Prevent her from eating and drinking until she comes to me, Sarapammon, whom Area bore, and do not allow her to have experience with another man, except me alone. Drag her by her hair, by her guts, until she does not stand aloof from me.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:07:17 am
Like the charioteer curse from Carthage, which was accompanied by the trussed-up rooster, this spell combines two types of overlapping ritual operations, one that requires supernatural assistance and another that does not: Sarapammon directs a ghost to bind Ptolemais and to force her to come to him, and by binding the arms and legs of her effigy and then piercing it, he seeks by a sympathetic magic to bind her and most likely to torture her as well. A contemporary magical handbook, also found in Egypt, provides a recipe for a nearly identical effigy, telling the practitioner where to pierce the figurine and what to recite. The goal is apparently to make the woman feel aches and pains throughout her body that will cause her to remember the man who pierces the effigy.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:07:36 am
The ancients also could use a pair of images to encourage sexual desire. In a Roman-era work from Egypt, probably by a professional sorcerer, two wax figurines were molded face-to-face in an erotic embrace, wrapped in a pair of papyrus sheets, and sealed in a clay pot. They were probably then buried in a cemetery. The innermost of the two sheets was inscribed with a long incantation that includes the following commands, addressed to a ghost:


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:08:00 am
Seize Euphemia and lead her to me Theon, loving me with mad desire, and bind her with unloosable shackles, strong ones of adamantine, for the love of me, Theon, and do not allow her to eat, drink, obtain sleep, jest or laugh but make her leap out...and leave behind her father, mother brothers, sisters, until she comes to me.... Burn her limbs, liver, female body, until she comes to me, loving me and not disobeying me.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:08:22 am
The wax figures that accompanied this text may, on its face, seem less violent than the previous one--the woman is embraced, not stabbed with needles--but the method and the goal are quite the same: burning and binding will lead to complete submission of the woman to the desires of the man. A biography of Saint Irene, a ninth-century Cappadocian nun, tells of a novice who was attacked by a former suitor with exactly this kind of erotic spell:


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:08:40 am
...the girl was unexpectedly attacked by a seething passion which maddened her with a frantic lust for her former suitor and did not allow her to control herself. Violently leaping, screaming, moaning, crying and calling out his name in a loud voice, she assured with fearful oaths that unless someone would let her see him with her eyes and enjoy in excess his sight and conversation, she would hang herself. Then one could see her continually running to the gateway, urging her escape and with inarticulate screams and shameless gestures ordering the gatekeeper to let her out.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:08:59 am
Later we are told that in response to prayers for help from Irene and her fellow nuns, two saints flew over the abbey and dropped a package inside of which were found the magical devices that had apparently caused the girl's insanity: two effigies made of lead and embracing each other. Such a detailed description of the supposed effect of an erotic spell is quite rare, but we can see how closely the novice's symptoms match up with the desired effects of such spells. It also attests the longevity of such beliefs.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:09:29 am
Returning to the small figurines recently discovered in the ruins of the fountain of Anna Perenna, we suspect that, since there are so many of them, they are the work of a professional witch, but who were her clients and what were their goals? Were they curses designed to bind a rival charioteer like Victoricus or poet like the young Augustine in an upcoming contest? Were they designed to prevent a legal opponent from testifying in court against them? Or were they aimed at a much more important figure, like Germanicus, in line for high political office? So far, Marina Piranomonte has been able to read only one name on the corroded surface of the lead canisters: Antonius. Since roughly seventy of the eighty extant erotic curses are aimed at women, it is much more likely that the effigy enclosed within that container was used as part of curse against a rival or an enemy. But this need not be the case with the other canisters, since curses and erotic spells were often prepared and treated in the same manner and then deposited in the same place. Once the cleaning and conservation process is over, however, we will know more from the inscriptions. And then we will have the names of the people involved. If they are curses against rival athletes or politicians, they will mention only the victim's name, but if they are erotic spells they will preserve the names of both the victim and the client, because the demons need to know to whom they should send the sex-crazed victim. It is, however, highly unlikely that we will ever learn the name of the witch who prepared them. Unlike the woman apprehended and executed for the murder of Germanicus, all she has left us is her handiwork and a single thumbprint.

Christopher A. Faraone, a professor of classics at the University of Chicago, is author of Ancient Greek Love Magic (Harvard University Press, 1999) and coeditor of Magika Hiera: Ancient Greek Magic and Religion (Oxford University Press, 1991).

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Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:21:11 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0303/etc/jpegs/magic1.jpg)

The 2nd-century A.D. novel Metamorphoses includes a witch able to transform herself into an owl. When Lucius, the main character attempts the same, he turns himself into an ass.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:22:13 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0303/etc/jpegs/magic2.jpg)

Germanicus, the grand-nephew of the emperor Augustus, was believed to have been killed by witchcraft.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:22:38 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0303/etc/jpegs/magic3.jpg)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:23:15 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0303/etc/jpegs/magic4.jpg)

A man named Kardelos was attacked in this 4th-century A.D. curse tablet from Rome.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:23:49 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0303/etc/jpegs/magic5.jpg)

A 4th-century A.D. curse tablet related to chariot races from near Rome


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:24:26 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0303/etc/jpegs/magic6.jpg)

Witches in antiquity were often described as hags who could command the dead, like Lucan's Erictho using a dead soldier to foretell events or the Bible's witch of Endor raising the ghost of Samuel at the behest of Saul.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:25:03 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/0303/etc/jpegs/magic7.jpg)

A Pompeiian mosaic shows a scene from a play in which two women consult a witch.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:26:46 am
Curse of the Stolen Cloak
Volume 60 Number 2, March/April 2007
by Jason Urbanus
[image]   During salvage excavations in Leicester, archaeologists discovered a curse tablet near the ruins of a Roman townhouse. (Courtesy University of Leicester Archaeological Services)

Servandus, a Roman who lived in Britain around 1,700 years ago, was unhappy about having his cloak stolen. So he asked a god to destroy the culprit. This ancient case of petty larceny has now been reopened by archaeologists excavating in Leicester, England, where they uncovered a Latin "curse tablet" that targets the thief.

The thin, rectangular sheet of lead, dating to the second or third century A.D. and measuring 7 by 3 inches, bears the inscription:

    To the god Maglus, I give the wrongdoer who stole the cloak of Servandus. . . . that he destroy him before the ninth day, the person who stole the cloak of Servandus.

The inscription includes the names of 18 or 19 possible suspects. Not much is known about the god Maglus, but the name might derive from a Celtic word for "prince."

The University of Leicester Archaeological Services found the tablet during digging at the site of a planned downtown development. Over the past two years the team has also unearthed a substantial Roman townhouse, Roman public buildings, and sections of the city's ancient walls.

Whether the cloak thief was ever punished will remain a mystery, but perhaps Servandus was not alone. Among the thousands of pieces of pottery, animal bones, coins, and other small objects uncovered in Leicester was a second curse tablet. It has yet to be translated.

Jason Urbanus is a doctoral candidate at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University.

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www.archaeology.org/0703/abstracts/thief.html

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Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:28:40 am
Curses of Caesarea
"Uncanny Archaeology"
by Andrew Slayman

Why were 50 curse tablets buried at the headquarters of the Roman governor of Judea?

More than 50 Roman-era curse tablets have been found in a well at the ruins of King Herod's palace at Caesarea Maritima. The well is thought to date to sometime after the 1st century A.D., when the palace served as headquarters of the Roman governor of Judea. The tablets, the largest single collection ever found in Israel, were discovered by a University of Pennsylvania team led by Kathryn Gleason and Barbara Burrell. Made of soft lead and inscribed with enemies' names, tablets of this type were usually placed in wells or graves where, it was believed, spirits of underworld gods or dead would activate the curses. Burrell speculates that many of the tablets found at Caesarea were intended to influence decisions of the governor's tribunal, believed to have been located in adjacent buildings; some may have been intended to influence the outcome of games at the nearby arena. Decipherment of the tablets by Holt Parker of the University of Cincinnati should clarify the nature of the curses and explain why they were deposited in this particular well. Fragments of lamps and pottery, dice, and coins also found in the well will help date the tablets.

This newsbrief first appeared in ARCHAEOLOGY, March/April 1995, p. 16.

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© 2009 by the Archaeological Institute of America
www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/curses.html


http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/curses.html


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:29:36 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/curses.jpg)

Fragments of lead curse tablets found at Caesarea (Courtesy University of Pennsylvania)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:30:33 am
Curse of the Balsam Cookers
February 25, 1997
by Abraham Rabinovich

The mystery of a curse inscribed on the mosaic floor of an ancient synagogue at Ein Gedi on the shores of the Dead Sea may have been resolved. The 4th-century A.D. mosaic, uncovered 25 years ago, bears a curse in Aramaic against anyone revealing the "secret of the town to the gentiles." Scholars had speculated that the curse might relate to the town's production of balsam. Sap from the balsam tree was used as a healing agent, but it was also a highly prized perfume whose production enriched the coffers of the rulers of Judea and later of Rome. Ein Gedi and two other sites in the Dead Sea area were apparently the only centers of balsam growing.

In his first season at Ein Gedi, Hebrew University archaeologist Yizhar Hirschfeld excavated the remains of a two-story stone tower adjacent to ancient agricultural terraces, presumably connected with the production of balsam. A steeply sloping glacis (or incline) shielded a wooden entrance to the tower that could be blocked by a heavy wheel-like stone that was rolled back and forth on a dirt track. A six-foot-high reservoir built against a rear wall is where balsam was produced, says Hirschfeld, who believes that balsam tree leaves and bark were brought to the tower from the surrounding terraces and cooked in a small forecourt where remains of a furnace and large amounts of ash have been found. Hirschfeld suspects that the cooked balsam was then put in a reservoir abutting the tower's rear wall, where it was mixed with water. He says the balsam essence then flowed from this reservoir through a hole in the wall directly into the basin in the building's interior.

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© 1997 by the Archaeological Institute of America
www.archaeology.org/online/news/balsam.html

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Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:32:09 am
Plague Vampire Exorcism

by Samir S. Patel

Picture a 16th-century plague victim, wrapped in a cloth shroud and buried. Now picture a gravedigger, assigned to the terrible work of opening a mass grave to put more bodies in. He scrapes the dirt away from the face and finds, to his horror, that the corpse is trying to eat its way out. Where the shroud covers the mouth there is a dark, bilious stain and the cloth has been worn through. As if it wasn't already difficult enough to dig graves for plague victims, he now has to deal with the undead--a malicious, pestilent vampire. The solution, a sort of vampire exorcism, would have been to cram a brick in the corpse's mouth to prevent it from eating its way out of the grave and spreading the plague. It is the stuff of legend, but there's something to it--a good scientific reason why it would appear a corpse was trying to eat its way out of the grave, and clear archaeological evidence for exorcism by brick. Senior Editor Samir S. Patel spoke with University of Florence forensic anthropologist and archaeologist Matteo Borrini after the meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Science in Denver, where he presented an "exorcised" skull from a plague grave on the Venetian island of Lazzaretto Nuovo.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:33:44 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/plague1.jpg)

Matteo Borrini (Courtesy Matteo Borrini)



Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:34:20 am
Where and how was this skull discovered?
From 2006 to 2007, the Veneto Department of National Heritage and Cultural Activities supported research on Lazzaretto Nuovo, where the corpses of plague victims were buried in the 16th and 17th centuries. As a forensic archaeologist and anthropologist, I was the director of the excavation when we found the skull of a mature female with a brick placed in her mouth. We conducted the excavation using the latest forensic archaeology and anthropology techniques, including methods used by modern police for crime scenes.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:34:43 am
Why would they have done that to the corpse?
This was an ancient folkloric tradition. We have determined that this superstition resulted from a misinterpretation of thanatological (death-related) data. In the 16th and 17th centuries, little was known about what happens to the body after death. They knew about immediate postmortem changes, such as cooling of the body (algor mortis) and temporary stiffening of the muscles (rigor mortis), but these changes don't really alter the appearance of the deceased. The ensuing decay and decay and putrefaction--which reduce a corpse to a skeleton--were poorly understood because they happen in the grave. When graves were reopened, it was usually after years, when the body had completely turned into a skeleton. So they associated death with a cold and stiff corpse or blanched skeleton, and allegorical paintings from the time confirm this.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:35:01 am
Reports of vampires in graves actually describe a corpse during decomposition. The rigor mortis would have disappeared. A phenomenon called epidermolysis would be visible, in which the epidermis loosens from the underlying dermis and the nails fall off, exposing the nail beds and giving the impression of new growth. At the same time, the corpse would be going through the putrefaction stage in which the abdomen gets bloated from the build-up of gases. The decay of the gastrointestinal tract contents and lining create a dark fluid called "purge fluid" that might flow freely from the nose and mouth and could easily be confused with the blood sucked by the vampire. And if a corpse was wrapped in a shroud, putrid gases and purge fluid flowing from the mouth would moisten the cloth so that it would sink into the mouth (which would open as the muscles relaxed after rigor mortis), where the fluids would break it down. So the legend that corpse could eat through its shroud is a real observation that was interpreted without the proper medical knowledge.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:35:28 am
One can see why such legends spread, especially during plagues. During pandemics, it was common to reopen tombs and mass graves to bury other victims. This exposed people to bodies that were not completely decomposed, thus increasing dread and superstition among people who were already suffering pestilence and massive deaths.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:36:59 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/plague2.jpg)

(Courtesy Matteo Borrini)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:37:36 am
How do we know about what the people believed when they saw what appeared to be corpses gnawing through their shrouds? Are there textual sources?
Yes. The vampires thought to be chewing through their shrouds were sometimes referred to as the nachtzehrer (a German term meaning "night-waster"). The superstition was born among the Kashubes of north-central Poland and goes back to the 13th century in Bohemia and Moravia. It then spread around all Europe during the seventeenth century. The nachtzehrer is a dead body kept in a kind of liminal life by supernatural forces or Satan. A "scientific" overview of them was offered by Protestant theologian Philippus Rohr at the University of Lipsia in 1679, under the title Dissertatio historico-philosophica de masticatione mortuorum. The text describes some distinctive habits of this revenant: the nachtzehrer usually eats the cloth or funerary shroud in which it is wrapped, and its chewing causes noises similar to a pig while it is eating. As it chews through the shroud, it is just in a larval stage. When it becomes stronger, it can even leave its grave to become a real, "traditional" vampire.

Epidemic diseases, generally plague, were believed to be a result of the nachtzehrer's chewing. In a sort of inverse food chain, plague both decimated the population and supported the growth of vampires.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:38:08 am
How did you connect the nachtzehrer legend with the particular burial you found?
In our excavations, the burial is linked with the nachtzehrer superstition not only because the skeleton is in a plague grave, but also because of the brick in the mouth. Actually, the "cure" to kill this revenant--suggested by traditions and also reported by Rohr--was to exhume the body, remove the shroud from its mouth, and replace it with a handful of soil, or better a stone or brick, so the undead would be prevented from chewing and would eventually die of starvation.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:38:26 am
Were any other remains like this found there, or at other related plague sites?
Not in the Lazzaretto Nuovo, but the belief was widespread in Europe at the time, so there are probably others. But this is the first "vampire grave" studied from all angles--archaeological, forensic, and folkloric.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:39:11 am
What is it like to work with such macabre or spooky subjects?
I don't think this is a macabre story, but I admit that was a very unusual subject. In forensic cases, people in the media often use words like "monster" or "vampire" to describe particularly violent offenders--but in this case I was researching a "real" legend. When I started to work on it, I didn't have any ideas about vampires, or why this skeleton had a brick in its mouth, but it was clear that there had to be a reason that someone in the 16th century decided to manipulate an infectious corpse like this. So I started researching the plague and folkloric traditions, and was astonished when I realized that this individual was considered a vampire and had been exorcised. Archeologists and anthropologists often study and try to reconstruct ancient religions, superstitions, and rituals, but it's a terrific feeling when you have some kind of clear evidence. In this case, I was confronted by evidence of belief in one of the most famous (and infamous) mythological characters . . . absolutely incredible. I must admit that in the beginning I was a bit afraid to present this to the scientific community--I didn't want my colleagues to think that I was looking for media attention, or, even worse, that I believed in vampires. But then I realized that I had to present it. It represents very useful evidence of past beliefs and traditions, and clearly illustrates how, in the absence of scientific knowledge, the human mind can misinterpret the reality to create "monsters." So working on this skeleton, reconstructing its history, and trying to explain how a certain vampire belief was born wasn't a macabre job, but a really great intellectual and scientific experience.

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www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/plague.html

http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/plague.html


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:40:09 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/plague3.jpg)

(Courtesy Matteo Borrini)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:41:27 am
The Vampire of Lesbos
"Uncanny Archaeology"
by Hector Williams

Eight-inch iron spikes nail down the identification of a 19th-century vampire burial near Mytilene

The well-preserved skeleton of a middle-aged man, nailed to his coffin with eight-inch iron spikes, has been found in a 19th-century Turkish cemetery near the north harbor of Mytilene, the principal city of the Greek island of Lesbos. Researchers from the University of British Columbia and the Tenth Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities discovered the skeleton in a stone-lined crypt hollowed out of an ancient city wall. They had been excavating on a government owned plot in a study of Mytilenean archaeology. The man had been nailed through his neck, pelvis, and ankle. According to 18th- and 19th-century travelers, suspected vampires were nailed to their caskets to keep them from rising from the dead. That a Moslem would be buried this way is of particular interest since such burials were predominantly a Christian practice.

This newsbrief first appeared in ARCHAEOLOGY, March/April 1994, p. 22.

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© 2009 by the Archaeological Institute of America
www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/vampire.html


http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/vampire.html


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:42:32 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/images/vampire.jpg)

Rusted iron spikes pierce the neck, pelvis, and ankle of this skeleton, found in a Turkish cemetery on the Greek island of Lesbos (Hector Williams)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:45:14 am
Archaeology of the Undead
April Fool's Day 2006

Zombie expert Max Brooks explains humanity's oldest struggle.

(http://www.archaeology.org/online/interviews/zombies/jpegs/zombies1.jpeg)

Recent scholarship suggests the Easter Island statues memorialize a prehistoric zombie outbreak.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:47:14 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/interviews/zombies/jpegs/zombies2.jpeg)

Clues include the as yet undeciphered Rongorongo script of Easter Island, which has characters that are clearly inspired by the undead.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:48:16 am
There are so many myths about the undead. Just what is a zombie? And what's the origin of the word?

Although there are many different definitions for the word "zombie," from a West African Snake God to a West Indian victim of voodoo, what we are really talking about here is a reanimated, human corpse that seeks to devour the flesh of living human beings.

Can zombie outbreaks be discerned in the archaeological record?

Hard zombie evidence is always difficult to uncover. The bones of the living dead are not physically different from those of the conventionally deceased. An archaeologist looking for evidence of zombies should look for corpses that have been either decapitated or brained. As we all know, these two methods are the only two ways of stopping the living dead. Of course, a crushed skull does not necessarily prove the presence of the undead. If possible, scholars should research the methods of warfare used by the people in question. If decapitation and braining were not part of their "M.O.," then cranial trauma might be a red flag.
   The remains of a zombie's victim may also tell us as much, if not more, than the remains of an actual zombie. Look for bones that have been marked by human teeth but lack the scrapes of a butchering implement. This may be evidence of the living dead, since traditional human cannibals have a tendency to 'prepare' their meals with scrapers and other tools.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:48:48 am
What about zombieism among our hominid ancestors? Is it possible that Homo erectus, or even Australopithicenes, were also confronted by the spectre of the undead? If so, could zombies be responsible for the extinction of some hominid species?

The theory of "Undead Evolutionary Influence" has many supporters in the paleoanthropological community. Louis Leakey even mentioned it in his ground-breaking paper "Lucy Fights a Ghoul." However, in order to test this theory, one would have to clone our pre-human ancestors, then infect them with the zombie virus. That would be, needless to say, both financially and politically expensive, and the technical difficulties are formidable.    Recently, a South Korean researcher claimed to have cloned, then infected, an Australopithecus, in effect creating an undead hominid. However the experiment was quickly revealed to be a hoax.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:49:32 am
What explains the long gap in the record between the Katanda event 60,000 years ago in sub-Saharan Africa and the next documented occurence of zombieism at 3000 B.C. in Predynastic Egypt?

Although the answer is still a mystery, more and more experts theorize that the gap in zombie attacks during this long period may, in fact, be more of a gap in our ability to decipher the archaeological record. One recent expedition to Iraq believes that they have uncovered a cuneiform tablet inscribed with the Sumerian word for "zombie." Though others have translated it as "turnip."


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 01:50:09 am
What impact did the rise of city-states in Mesopotamia and the other so-called cradles of civilization, like the Indus Valley and the Yangzte River basin, have on zombies?

The rise of civilization was both a blessing and a curse. Although it gave potential victims the ability to organize and combat the undead menace, it also presented that menace with a larger pool of potential victims.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:01:17 am
Books like Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel completely ignore the impact zombies have had on the course of human development. Does anyone out there have a global view of how profoundly the undead have influenced history?

The new book 1490 [by former Russian submarine commander Kadavar Devouravich-ed] postulates that the living dead got to the New World before Columbus, and were responsible for the annihilation of several indigenous American societies. According to its author, infected sailors from Europe were "thrown overboard by their crew, only to be washed ashore along the coast of The New World." The book is still highly controversial.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:02:14 am
Were any ancient cultures particularly successful in containing zombie outbreaks?

The Roman Empire was very efficient at dealing with the living dead. The fact that they referred to their zombie containment tactics simply as "XXXVII" shows how practical their legions were when dealing with a zombie outbreak.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:02:31 am
Literary evidence for ancient zombieism can be unrealiable. I'm thinking here particularly of Hanno of Carthage's ca. 500 B.C. reports of zombies on the African coast, which are highly suspect, to put it mildly. What can archaeology bring to the table in terms of the study of ancient zombies to augment or even correct textual scholarship?

Unfortunately most authors, then and now, are mainly just concerned with selling books. Hanno's accounts might have been "sexed up" by either himself, his editor, or even subsequent translators. Modern archaeology, largely unconcerned with profit margins, gives us an unbiased view of the history of zombies.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:03:22 am
When excavating a possible zombie archaeological site, what special precautions can be taken to protect the people digging at the site?

Be extremely careful when excavating sealed tombs. The lack of oxygen might have retarded the living dead's already slow rate of decomposition. Arctic or subarctic environments are considered the "hottest" danger zones because a reanimated ghoul may thaw even after centuries of frozen imprisonment; another reason to be concerned about global warming.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:04:03 am
Does the archaeological record hold any zombie-related lessons for us today? What can our ancestors teach us about meeting and, ultimately, defeating the undead menace?

The greatest lesson our ancestors have to teach us is to remain both vigilant and unafraid. We must endeavor to emulate the ancient Romans; calm, efficient, treating zombies as just one more item on a rather mundane checklist. Panic is the undead's greatest ally, doing far more damage, in, some cases, than the creatures themselves. The goal is to be prepared, not scared, to use our heads, and cut off theirs.

Max Brooks is the author of The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead and World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.
Timeline of Known Prehistoric and Historic Zombie Outbreak

http://www.archaeology.org/online/interviews/zombies/


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:04:57 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/interviews/zombies/jpegs/zombies3.jpeg)

The figure in the so-called "Shaft of the Dead Man" in France's Lascaux cave is one of the most puzzling figures in Paleolithic art. It's likely the "man" is actually a zombie. Though this interpretation does not explain the equally puzzling "duck on the stick."


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:05:38 am
Timeline of Known Prehistoric and Historic Zombie Outbreaks
(Adapted from The Zombie Survival Guide)
60,000 B.C.    Katanda, Central Africa
3000 B.C.    Hierakonpolis, Egypt
500 B.C.    Africa (reports from Hanno of Carthage)
329 B.C.    Afghanistan
212 B.C.    China
A.D. 121    Fanum Cocidi, Caledonia (Scotland)
A.D. 140-41    Thamugadi, Mumidia (Algeria)
A.D. 156    Castra Regina, Germania
A.D. 177    Tolosa, Aquitania (southwest France)
A.D. 700    Frisia (northern Holland)
A.D. 850    Saxony
A.D. 1073    Jerusalem
A.D. 1253    Fiskurhofn, Greenland
A.D. 1587    Roanoke Island, North Carolina

    * Click here for more "Uncanny Archaeology"

-----
© 2006 by the Archaeological Institute of America
www.archaeology.org/online/interviews/zombies/

http://www.archaeology.org/online/interviews/zombies/


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:08:10 am
Zombie Attack at Hierakonpolis
November 6, 2007
by Renée Friedman

Weighing the evidence for and dating of Solanum virus outbreaks in early Egypt

(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/hierakonpolis/jpegs/zombies1.jpg)

This nondescript tomb (center) may be the location where the first historical evidence of a zombie attack was discovered. (Courtesy of the Hierakonpolis Expedition)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:09:30 am
Hierakonpolis is a site famous for its many "firsts," so many, in fact, it is not easy to keep track of them all. So we are grateful(?) to Max Brooks for bringing to our attention that the site can also claim the title to the earliest recorded zombie attack in history. In his magisterial tome, The Zombie Survival Guide (2003), he informs us that in 1892, a British dig at Hierakonpolis unearthed a nondescript tomb containing a partially decomposed body, whose brain had been infected with the virus (Solanum) that turns people into zombies. In addition, thousands of scratch marks adorned every surface of the tomb, as if the corpse had tried to claw its way out! [Editor's note: click here for an interview with Max Brooks and a timeline of archaeologically documented zombie outbreaks.]


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:10:45 am
With the records available to us (Mr. Brooks obviously has access to others), the British dig can be identified as that conducted by Mssr. Somers Clarke and J.J. Tylor, during which they cleared the decorated tombs of Ny-ankh-pepy (Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom) and Horemkhawef (Second Intermediate Period) on Old Kingdom hill. The notes of Tylor are lost to us, but Clarke's are preserved in the Griffith Institute, Oxford. Unusually cryptic in his discussion, he makes no mention of such a momentous discovery. Thus we can only infer that the tomb in question is one of those in the adjoining courtyard, and just a short distance from the underground chamber we examined in 2006 (see Hierakonpolis 2006: Adventures Underground). The tomb in question may indeed be the one we use a cozy and sheltered spot to take our lunch while working on the Fort, as its plastered, but unpainted walls are indeed covered with innumerable scratch marks that defy photography. If is the case, we might quibble--purely for the sake of scientific accuracy--that the 3000 B.C. date ascribed for the attack should be revised downward to the Old Kingdom, but its premier historical position remains unaffected. [Editor's note: this proposed re-dating, if accepted, necessitates a revision of Brooks's zombie-attack timeline.]


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:11:05 am
On the other hand, in support of the earlier date, some have claimed that the famous Palette of Narmer (ca. 3000 B.C.), also from Hierakonpolis, far from recording a victory in the war of unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, is instead a celebration of the successful repulse of a zombie attack. Although we tend to focus on the verso where the king is shown smiting a kneeling enemy, it is the other side that is actually the front. It is the side with the depression for mixing the cosmetics for adorning the cult statue, and so it would seem that the scene of the king marching in procession to view a pile of decapitated bodies is the really important message. Nevertheless, while this scene may be evidence for zombie activity, reliance solely on pictorial records for such claims is scientifically questionable at best. There may be more to this in that Narmer's name means catfish-chisel, which sounds strange, and a catfish and chisel appear on the palette. But this could make sense if the palette refers to a victory over zombie forces. Perhaps Narmer wielded a large Nile catfish, Clarias?, grasping the tail and using it as a sort of black jack to stun the zombies, then removed their heads with a chisel. While it is an attractive idea, no serious archaeologist would hang their fedora on it without further evidence.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:11:54 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/hierakonpolis/jpegs/zombies2a.jpg)

Decapitated bodies on the front of the Narmer palette: overview shows Narmer, at left, with catfish and chisel motifs at top center. See detail of decapitated bodies. (Courtesy of the Hierakonpolis Expedition)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:12:32 am
Recent work at Hierakonpolis has, however, revealed compelling evidence that zombies may have been problematic already in Predynastic Egypt (ca. 3500 B.C.). Because this work has been undertaken with the most modern techniques, there is also the potential to uncover the hard scientific facts to illuminate the matter fully.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:13:34 am
From the very beginning of Predynastic research, Sir W.M. Flinders Petrie reported several headless, but seemingly intact, burials during his famous excavations at Naqada in 1895. Further excavations at Gerzeh and other sites revealed more of these curious burials, but no satisfactory explanation could be proposed at the time. More recently, excavations in the non-elite cemetery at Hierakonpolis (HK43), undertaken from 1996 to 2004, have uncovered more of these strange headless burials in addition to 21 individuals whose cervical vertebrae bear cut marks indicative of complete decapitation. The individuals include men and women ranging in age from 16 to 65. The number and the standard position of the cut marks (usually on the second-fourth cervical vertebrae; always from the front) indicate an effort far greater than that needed simply to cause the death of a normal (uninfected) person. The standard position also indicates these are not injuries sustained during normal warfare.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:14:33 am
Overall, those with cut marks represent less than 4% of the cemetery's population. Thus, one might suggest that the threat of zombification was relatively low, and those manifesting the disease were dealt with swiftly (though in some cemeteries evidence for cannibalism has also been found suggesting that one or two got a good meal first). Of course, if left unchecked, the virus could rage fiercely and it may have been the need for decisive and brave action that was the impetus that led to the development of early kingship in Egypt and at Hierakonpolis in the first place. (Perhaps a careful review of excavation records and skeletal remains from early Mesopotamian city-states is in order.)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:14:52 am
While currently this might seem a speculative theory for state formation, the fine preservation of the brains rattling around in the skulls of some of the cut folks does provide the potential for scientific verification. We are currently seeking funding for a major research project to determine if remnants of the virus can be distilled from the preserved brain matter and, of course, more importantly, whether this virus is still viable. If so, it may allow for a vaccination to be developed so that this scourge, which seems to have threatened mankind for even longer than we previously imagined, can finally be put to rest.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:15:15 am
Little is known about how long the virus can lay dormant, thus it is possible that another outbreak could occur at any time--given its history, especially at Hierakonpolis. With this potential in mind, we asked Tom Flanigan, zombie eradication expert for the U.S. Forestry Service, to draw up a contingency plan for us--see his report below. However, we stress that nothing amiss has been observed during any of our recent excavations (though the number of missing heads is a bit curious).


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:16:10 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/hierakonpolis/jpegs/zombies3a.jpg)

Headless at Hierakonpolis. Left is one of several Predynastic graves from cemetery HK43 where the head is missing but the rest of the burial is intact including several lovely grave goods. (Burial 165)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:17:09 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/hierakonpolis/jpegs/zombies3b.jpg)

These beads were found around the neck, but the head was gone. (Courtesy of the Hierakonpolis Expedition)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:18:14 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/hierakonpolis/jpegs/zombies4a.jpg)

Left, first to third cervical vertebrae with cut marks, ventral aspect. Lower arrows point to complete removal of the left and right uncinate processes of the third cervical vertebrae suggestive of complete severance of the spinal column leading to full decapitation (HK43 Burial 350).


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:19:00 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/hierakonpolis/jpegs/zombies4b.jpg)

Right, inferior aspect of axis vertebrae showing cuts going all the way through. This head definitely came off. (Courtesy of the Hierakonpolis Expedition)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:19:49 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/hierakonpolis/jpegs/zombies5a.jpg)

Brain preserved in the skull of Burial 350. Analysis may provide the answer to the history of the virus and ultimately leads to its cure!


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:20:43 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/hierakonpolis/jpegs/zombies5b.jpg)

Close up of Predynastic brain--our best hope! (Courtesy of the Hierakonpolis Expedition)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:21:36 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/hierakonpolis/jpegs/zombies6.jpg)

Do not panic. We stress that nothing unusual has been observed during recent excavations. (Courtesy of the Hierakonpolis Expedition)


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:22:01 am
Renée Friedman is director of the Hierakonpolis Expedition.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:22:36 am
Solanum Outbreak Contingency Plan
by Tom Flanigan

A contingency plan for a Solanum outbreak at Hierakonpolis

When we think of zombies, our thoughts turn to the ghouls from Hollywood movies. Some of us with a background in anthropology may first think of Wade Davis' groundbreaking work in Haiti. Davis purported to discover that zombies were indeed real, and were the work of "Bokor" Voodoo sorcerers using a powder derived from fish toxins called poud zombie (Davis 1988: 1715). Davis' zombies were not truly reanimated dead bodies, but people put into a death-like coma. When the person regained consciousness they were made to be slaves in remote villages.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:23:05 am
However here we are concerned with real zombies, reanimated bodies of the recent dead who are driven by an urge to consume living people, in turn, creating more zombies. The idea that zombies are supernatural beings needs to be discarded. They are not the Spawn of Hell, although, they certainly look the part. They are, or were, people who were infected by the Solanum virus. The virus creates a zombie by eating away the frontal lobe of the brain for replication, thus destroying it. The virus mutates the brain and allows the brain to remain alive but dormant and without the need for oxygen. Once the mutation is complete, approximately 23 hours from infection to fully functioning zombie, the ghoul will be on the unending search for living human flesh, thus spreading the infection (Brooks 2003: 2).


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:23:23 am
What to do in the event of an outbreak

While the history of the Hierakonpolis outbreak (or outbreaks) is certainly educational, it provides us with enough information to know that the potential exists for another one. Great care must be taken during any tomb excavation and when dealing with human remains. A little mummy dust in an open wound or scratch could have you driving the Devil's Cadillac in the fast lane all the way to Zombie-town.

Assuming the virus is unleashed, your first thought might be that you will be dealing with throngs of the ancient Egyptians. This is not the problem. Remember, that Solanum does not reanimate the already dead, it kills living beings and reanimates them into flesh eaters. The threat will therefore come from local population centers, and most likely the Hierakonpolis team itself.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:23:56 am
There are two ways to stop a zombie. The first is simply to wait out the outbreak for a number of years until the living dead have decomposed to a level that they no longer present a threat. The second is the head shot. You have to disconnect what is left of the brain from the body. Given the tools on hand at Hierakonpolis this will likely be done with trowels (Marshalltown recommended), but shovels have also been shown to be effective.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:24:17 am
Almost certainly the first sign of infection will come from the Hierakonpolis team. I would surmise that the most likely hosts will be physical anthropologists working in the lab environment due to their continued exposure to human remains and that good old fashioned "mummy dust" we are all familiar with. The unfortunate side effect of the infection starting within this specialized group of researchers is that they are generally the least squeamish about decapitation duty. I know for a fact that Sean Dougherty, a physical anthropologist with extensive experience at the site, wouldn't hesitate to lop off the head of any member of the team at any time, and for any reason. As morbid and disturbing as it sounds, guys like Sean can be a real asset in this type of situation.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:24:40 am
However, should these experts be unavailable, or have already succumbed, it might be time to consider barricades. The Hoffman House has a number of rooms that could easily be secured against zombie intrusion. Just make sure the room is ghoul-free prior to barricading yourself in it. Treat the outbreak as you would any other natural disaster. Have a contingency plan for food, water, and other necessities, and be prepared to be self sufficient. The fact that the Hoffman House has an existing wall around it with a locking metal gate, a water system, solar power, fruit-bearing trees, and a vegetable garden, puts you in a great position to survive. In fact, the house is situated so well, tactically speaking, it is hard to imagine that the original architect was unaware of the potential of the house as a defensive position in the event that the dead would rise again.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:26:13 am
This may seem absurd, but you won't think its funny when you are feasting on the corpses of your friends and fellow researchers, in fact, you won't be thinking at all.

Tom Flanigan, Archaeologist, Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Utah

    * Click here for more "Uncanny Archaeology"
    * For more about the Hierakonpolis Expedition, and to contribute to it, see the project website at www.hierakonpolis.org. Recent field reports can also be seen in the Interactive Dig pages of ARCHAEOLOGY's website.

References

Brooks, M. 2003. The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead. Three Rivers Press, New York

Davis, W. 1988. "Zombification," in Science, New Series, Vol. 240, No. 4860. Pp. 1715-1716

Dougherty, S.P., 2004. A Little More off the Top. Nekhen News 16: 11-12. (on line at www.hierakonpolis.org/resources)

Flanigan, T., and T. Lewis. 2004 Clearing the Nest: Vampires in the Nevada Desert. Report on file at the U.S. Forest Service, Ely, Nevada

Friedman, R. 2002. The Predynastic Cemetery at HK43: Excavations in 2002. Nekhen News 14: 9-10. (on line at www.hierakonpolis.org/resources)

Maish, A., 2003 Not just another cut throat. Nekhen News 15:26. (on line at www.hierakonpolis.org/resources)

Maish, A., and R. Friedman. Pondering Paddy: Unwrapping the Mysteries of HK43. Nekhen News 11: 6-7 (on line at www.hierakonpolis.org/resources)

Murray, M.A., 1956. Burial customs and beliefs in the hereafter in Predynastic Egypt. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 42: 86-96.
-----
© 2007 by the Archaeological Institute of America
www.archaeology.org/online/features/hierakonpolis/zombies.html

http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/hierakonpolis/zombies.html


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:27:10 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/hierakonpolis/jpegs/zombies7.jpg)

Tom Flanigan demonstrates trowel technique for zombie eradication.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:28:36 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/hierakonpolis/jpegs/zombies8.jpg)

Shovel technique


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:29:38 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/hierakonpolis/jpegs/zombies9.jpg)


The threat will most likely come from local population centers, most probably those working on the excavation.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:30:34 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/hierakonpolis/jpegs/zombies10.jpg)


The physical anthropologists are obviously the most exposed to the potential of infection.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:31:26 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/hierakonpolis/jpegs/zombies11.jpg)

Physical Anthropologist Sean Dougherty, our chief asset in the event of a zombie attack.


Title: Re: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween
Post by: Vlad the Impaler on October 31, 2009, 02:32:57 am
(http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/hierakonpolis/jpegs/zombies12.jpg)

If all else fails, places like Hoffman house are designed to withstand a zombie outbreak.