Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Zombies Pt 2: Historical Accounts

Last week, I posted about zombies in nature and how it's not all sci-fi and brain eating corpses brought back to life. Such is the tale of Clairvius Narcisse, a man who was allegedly poisoned with the poisons used by a Bokor. In 1962, he "died" and was given a burial. When the Bokor later dug him up, Clairvius was given a paste that at certain doses has hallucinogenic effects that can cause memory loss. He was then forced to work, alongside others, on a sugar plantation until the master's death. Because the doses of the narcotic paste stopped, Clairvius eventually regained his sanity (unlike many others who suffered brain damage). One day in 1980, in a supermarket, Angelina Narcisse was shocked when Clairvius, her brother, walked in.

Accounts of zombies go back even farther. Recently, archaeologists found an 8th century graveyard in Roscommon, Ireland with more than 120 of human skeletons with large stones stuck in their mouths--a ritual researches believe the locals did to stop the dead from returning to walk the Earth as zombies. The bodies in the cemetery dated between the 7th and 14th centuries.

At first, the team of archaeologists thought that they had stumbled across a burial ground for the remains of the victims of the Black Death. Initially, they believed that it possibly could have been related to vampire slayings, where a stake is driven into the heart. During the Middle Ages, the people at the time thought that vampires were believed to spread plague. A stone placed inside the mouth was thought to prevent this, causing the corpse to starve. The only thing against the theory about vampires, was that the vampire culture didn't evolve until the 16th century. Therefore, researchers thought that the act of placing stones in the mouths might have simply acted as a barrier to stop the dead from coming back from the graves, possibly feeding into the theory that the vampires would starve with such methods later on.

One scientist said that the mouth 'was viewed as the main portal for the soul to leave the body upon death. Sometimes, the soul could come back to the body and re-animate it or else an evil spirit could enter the body through the mouth and bring it back to life'.

In fact, many cultures placed something in the mouth of the deceased. Ancient Greeks and Romans, for instances, placed a coin in the the person's mouth before burial, believing that it would be payment for the ferryman who conveyed souls across the river that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead.

There are many practices of putting stone and other objects into the mouth of the deceased. What do you think was going on? Was it to stop the dead from rising? Or some other reason?

(Also, check out this awesome hardware store, taking zombie preparedness to a whole new level!)

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