The act of digging things out of the ground has its built-in scares. Worms, maggots, mud, not the most pleasant creatures or settings in the world. That doesn’t stop archeologists from hunting for the next great find. Hidden treasures, secrets, views into the mysterious past. Archeology is defined in the Oxford dictionary as “the study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of artifacts and other physical remains.” That’s fine and dandy, but I don’t know if it gets to the heart of what archeology is all about. It’s not just digging things up and marking down what they are/ their significance. Archeology is tracing a lineage between who we are and who we were.
Literally digging into the past often has its spooky repercussions. From decapitated bodies to sunken cities, these are the most bizarre archeological discoveries in the world.
York, England was the resting place for several gladiators. Nearly all of them were mysteriously decapitated. Experts had no guess as to why the heads had been completely removed and placed either between the corpse’s legs or upon their chest. The bodies dated back to between the second and fourth century A.D. At that time York, England was under the domain of the Northern Roman Empire. The geographic region and signs of trauma led to the suspicion that the bodies were those of gladiators. It is also proposed that these headless men were warriors of the roman military.
Recent genetic analysis found that six of the bodies hailed from Britain while one could have come from Syria or Lebanon. The rest have been inconclusive. No matter where the men came from or who they were, the bodies were removed from their resting place in the name of scientific discovery. Their history now becoming mysteries and questions for us. In time, it’ll be interesting to see what new information comes from the dig site. Will it become possible to differentiate the trauma found along the bones between a military man and a gladiator? Or, will archeologists be able to learn more about the other bodies found in the dig and where they came from?
Pit of Death
Dating back around 5,335 years, a Neolithic ritual was conducted that left a 6.5-foot-deep pit entirely filled with bones. 5 feet wide in diameter, this archeological find was quickly termed the Pit of Death. There’s not a better name to describe this sickening discovery. Grotesquely, the body parts belonged to infants, children, adults, and the elderly. Those found truly ran the age gambit. One older man had lost his arm and then sustained a harsh blow to the cranium. On top of various amputated limps, seven full bodies were condemned to the abyss.
It is believed that the bodies are casualties of war. They were executed to appease or in honor of an unknown cause. Discovered in France while a property development project was in progress, there is little known about the executioners. In time researchers hope to learn much more about those who died. Depicting where they came from and more precisely how they died. War has been raging on our planet long before human beings. It’s a natural part of species interaction. Religious sacrifices are still prominent today. A long history that keeps repeating.
Poland was home to the foundational elements of the vampire mythos. Between the 1600s and 1700s, villagers became convinced that their loved ones would rise from the grave to suck the blood of family and friends. In an attempt to stop these monstrous creatures, Polish citizens buried others with rocks wedged below their chins and sickles hung over their necks. Tests provided information on the causes of death for these believed vampires. Most were attributed to a spread of cholera throughout the region. The disease spread and killed quickly, building the mysticism and mythology of the vampire. Once your family member became sick, it was only a matter of time.
It’s vital that we think of diseases and the spread of information. Now, as much as ever. Vampires may not be real, but what they represent very much is. Fear. Fear is a terribly effective motivator that provides unideal results. The danger wasn’t dead Polish citizens coming back from the grave to murder other townsfolk. It was bad hygienic behaviors and paranoia.
History has countless lessons to teach us. They’re not all about how we’ve progressed as a society. Paranoia, war, and misinformation spread as rapidly today as they did in the fourth century A.D. With so much confusion out there, it’s important to learn what we can from the annals of time and to not get too bogged down in the pits of bodies that we find along the way.