Sometimes digging up things would reveal frightening truths we’d rather not know about. From vampires to cursed books, here are the 8 scariest archeological discoveries ever made.
- The Book of the debt
The ancient Egyptian Book of the debt is famously known as a book containing spells that could be used in the afterlife. In The Mummy film starring Brendan Fraser, it was the very book that allowed Imhotep to rise from the debt and wreck havoc on Egypt, bringing with him the ten plagues. This book is very much real, although the effectiveness of the spells written inside it remains the subject of speculation. Instead of being one single book, it is more of a concept, and many versions have been written over the period of about 1000 years. The most sought after version was the one given to Amenhotep, a powerful Egyptian priest who lived around 1400 BC. Sections of the manuscript have laid scattered across the globe, and for over a century, archeologists have been working hard to piece them all together. The long wait ended in the 21st Century when the last missing pages were found not in a dark tomb, but in the basement of a museum in Queensland. They had apparently been donated to the museum over 100 years ago, and kept meticulously in the stores.
- Mummified Moa Remains
In 1986, a team of archeologists were investigating the insides of a large cave system underneath Mount Owen in New Zealand. With very little visibility in the vast network of tunnels, they stumbled across a bizarre object that left them wondering whether their eyes were playing tricks on them. In front of them lay a large dinosaur-like claw, with intact flesh and scaly skin. Curious, the team took it back with them for analysis. The results could not have been more astounding – the mysterious claw belonged to a 3300 year old prehistoric bird known as the upland moa. For some reason the mummified claw had been preserved so well, it appeared as if the creature had only recently dyed. Otherwise known by its scientific name Megalapteryx didinus, the upland moa was a large flightless bird that reached up to 12 feet in height, and weighed over 500 pounds. Moa birds were once the dominant animals in New Zealand’s forest ecosystems, until the arrival of the Maori people who hunted them down to extinction. Scientists have suggested that modern day revival of the species is a viable idea, as their remains contained extractable DNA that could be introduced into chicken embryos. Interest in the subject has been going on for years, and with the advancements in biology and genetics, we may one day get to see a live running moa.
- The Headless Vikings of Dorset
In June of 2009, Oxford archeologists were excavating land in the seaside town of Weymouth in Dorset, England. The area was about to undergo a controversial road-building project, so the archaeological investigation was conducted in order to preserve its historical remains. Shockingly, they discovered the remains of 54 headless skeletons, and a pile of 51 skulls within an old Roman quarry. This discovery attracted a lot of attention, and studies were made to determine who the remains belonged to and why they were massacred in such manner. The conclusion was that they were Scandinavian Vikings who dyed sometime during the centuries of war between them and the Anglo-Saxons during the middle ages. All of the remains were young adult males, and no remnants of clothing were found in the pit. All these clues led to speculations that the men were held captive, and were executive while may kid. From the look of the bones, the victims’ heads were all cut from the front. As proud Viking warriors, they preferred to face their killers. Historians came up with various theories about the mass Viking grave. Some say the Scandinavian warriors were defeated by a well-organized Saxon army and forced to surrender. Some linked them to the St Brice’s Day massacre of 1002, ordered by King Ethelred the Unready. And some speculated that they were traitors or defectors skilled by their own men. Interestingly, there were 3 fewer skulls than the number of skeletons found in the pit. A theory is that there were 3 high ranking victims who had their heads kept as souvenirs, or placed on stakes.
- Vampires of Europe
In recent years, vampire burial sites have been found in many places across Europe, with most of them being in Bulgaria. The graves contained skeletal remains with iron rods impaled through their chests where their heart would’ve been, a technique believed to be the best way to skill a vampire. In 2012, a heart-impaled skeleton was found in the Bulgarian seaside town of Sozopol, believed to be the remains of the local nobleman Krivich, ruler of the fortress of Sozopol. Recognized as a cruel person, the townspeople pierced his chest with an iron bar to make sure he wouldn’t come back to haunt them. A more recent discovery was made in 2014 at Bulgaria’s ancient temple of Perperion where 2 impaled bodies were found. The weird phenomenon is also seen in other parts of Europe. In 2013, archeologists discovered four vampire burial sites near the town of Gliwice, Poland where the heads of the debt had been detached and placed between their legs. This showed that the belief of vampires was widespread, and different regions had different methods to make sure the bloodsucking creatures would not rise again. In 2012, Italian researchers found the remains of what was believed to be a 16th Century female vampire, buried with a stone brick jammed between her jaws. This was to prevent her from rising up and feeding on the city’s plague victims. There was a widespread medieval belief that vampires were the culprits behind Europe’s Black Death.