A Strange Zombie Protection Practice in Medieval England

Fagjun | Published 2017-04-04 00:42

Medieval English people wanted to make sure that the dead do rest in peace—in pieces.
[Photo by Ashim D'Silva]

Or, perhaps, it's not so strange as logical in a way. Scientists have found that in the Medieval Ages, residents of Yorkshire, England had a surefire zombie protection technique.

Their method is simple: destroy the skeletons of the dead so they can never rise out of their graves.

Weird? Yes. Logical? Also yes, if you honestly fear that the dead have the capacity to come back and wreak havoc on the living. After all, if the dead could rise, how much trouble could they cause if they were in bits and pieces?

The Medieval times were...interesting, to say the least.

Corpse Mutilation Equals Zombie Protection

Archaeologists studied the remains of 10 individuals interred in a cemetery in the village of Wharram Percy between the 11th to 14th century. These individuals were between two to 50 years old. There were five adult males, two adult women, and three children.

The researchers discovered that there were cuts and burn marks on the bones, which were all signs of mutilation. The bodies had also been decapitated soon after death, then burned. Researchers ruled out possibilities like cannibalism, since the cuts were inconsistent with butchery. At the time, people resorted to cannibalism in times of famine. However, cuts around the joints would indicate butchery. The cuts on the corpses were instead mainly around the neck.

They also ruled out the possibility that the remains belonged to outsiders that the villagers distrusted. Isotope analysis on the bones revealed that the individuals grew up in the general area, perhaps in Wharram Percy itself.

Plus, the marks were posthumous. The researchers thus concluded that the most plausible explanation was mutilation after death. They propose that the villagers must have mutilated corpses as a form of zombie protection. If the dead ever do rise, which many cultures believe can happen, they won't be able to cause harm to the living. As a result of this belief, the people of Wharram Percy may have mutilated the corpses as a preventive measure.

If we are right, then this is the first good archaeological evidence we have for this practice,” says Simon Mays, one of the researchers.

Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse

Death is a mysterious and mostly terrifying thing. No one knows for sure what happens after death. Thus, cultures around the world have developed their own sets of beliefs and coping mechanisms across thousands of years.

There are actually Medieval documents that instruct people on how to stop the dead from rising. Apparently, people need to decapitate corpses and burn them to make sure the dead stay dead. Even today, the possibility that the dead may rise destroy the living is a fascinating subject. Zombies and zombie apocalypses are a popular feature in film, television, books, and games.

If we lived in a time when scientific studies and medicine weren't where they are now, the fear of the unknown would probably also drive us to extreme zombie protection measures. Will you be able to survive a zombie apocalypse? Why wait to find out? Nip that apocalypse in the bud and make sure the dead rest in pieces.

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