Top 10 Bizarre Witch Burials

Post 8204

Top 10 Bizarre Witch Burials


The extreme nature of “witch” burials reflects how deep our fear of sorcery goes—even from beyond the grave. It is not uncommon for the witches to be weighed down or have their jaws forced open. The designation “witch” is political. Because belief in divination and curses is universal to humans, spell-casters are always an easy scapegoat. Often, unexplained illnesses and misfortune are attributed to witchcraft. Many of these “witches” suffered from physical deformities, revealing our deep prejudice against anyone out of the norm.

10Nailed Witch


Photo via Jezebel

In 2011, archaeologists unearthed the 800-year-old remains of a witch, who had seven nails driven through her jawbone. Located in Tuscany, the site was considered a witches’ graveyard after an earlier discovery of a woman buried with 17 dice. The game was forbidden for women 800 years ago. Both women are believed to have been between 25 and 30 years old and were found in shallow graves without coffins or even burial shrouds. In addition to the seven nails in the witch’s jaw, she was surrounded by 13 nails, which likely pinned down her clothing.

The nails suggest that the locals were terrified of the witch returning from the dead. The nails in the jaw may have specifically prevented her from uttering curses from beyond the grave. The biggest mystery is why these suspected witches were buried in consecrated ground, which goes against the traditions of the era.


9Rita Of Rollright


Photo credit: News Team International via ITV News

In 2015, an amateur treasure hunter discovered the remains of a 1,400-year-old Saxon witch near the Rollright Stones in Warwickshire, England. According to legend, the Neolithic site was created when a witch turned a power-hungry king and his knights to stone. The woman was discovered with an early Saxon religious utensil known as a patera, which has led some to speculate that she was a pagan witch. Standing 150 centimeters (4’11”), the petite Saxon sorceress has been dubbed “Rita.”

Dated to around AD 600, Rita is not the Rollright Witch of legend; the site was constructed between 2500 and 2000 BC. Along with the patera, Rita was found with a spindle whorl, a large amber bead, and an amethyst-set silver mount, suggesting she was of high status. Roman soldiers originally used pateras to make divine offerings. The long, thin handle of Rita’s patera differs from the Roman variety.

8Viking Witch


Photo credit: Trustees of the British Museum via Ancient Origins

In 2013, archaeologists identified a mysterious metal artifact discovered in a ninth-century Viking woman’s grave as a magic wand. The 90-centimeter (35 in) curved metal rod had been an object of speculation since it was entered into the British Museum’s collection in 1894. Discovered in Norway’s Romsdale province, the artifact was originally thought to be a spit for roasting meat or a fishing hook. However, researchers now believe it was a magical tool used by a sorceress.

The woman’s grave contained other objects like a whalebone plaque, suggesting she may have been of high status. Experts believe the magic wand was used to perform seior—ancient Scandinavian sorcery, which was dominated by women. Divination and spell-casting were the principal activities of these Viking witches. Researchers believe the tool was purposely bent before burial. Bending or breaking objects prior to burial was a common Viking practice, which signified that it was put to rest.


7Grave Of The Last Scottish Witch


Photo credit: Douglas Speirs via BBC News

In 2014, archaeologists discovered what they believe is the final resting place of Scotland’s last witch on a Torryburn beach. In the early 1700s, Lilias Adie was accused of bringing ill health to her neighbors. She was arrested and confessed to being a witch. She revealed that she accepted the Devil as her lover and master. Before she could be tried and burned, Adie died in prison and was buried under a stone slab.

In Scottish folklore, people who were executed or committed suicide could return and haunt the living. Heavy stones were placed on their graves. On the beach, researchers located a large slab with a socket for an iron ring. Archaeologists confirmed that the stone was quarried elsewhere. During the 19th century, Adie’s grave was looted, and her remains were sold on the antiquities market. Without an excavation, it is uncertain how much of Adie lingers.

6Witch Of Tiree


Photo credit: The Hunterian Museum via Headlines News

In 2015, archaeologists uncovered a mysterious grave of a woman on the Scottish island of Tiree. Dubbed the “Witch of Tiree,” the woman suffered from the British Isles’ first known case of vitamin D deficiency. Aged between 25 and 30, the Witch of Tiree showed signs of severe rickets. She stood only 145 centimeters (4’9”) in an era when women averaged 165 centimeters (5’5”). Analysis of her remains revealed that the Witch of Tiree lived between 3340 and 3090 BC and was a local, but she did not eat fish, which could have prevented rickets.

It is possible for children to be born with a genetic form of rickets. However, experts believe this was not the case here. Most believe she was kept inside for most of her life. Some theorize she was a slave. Others suggest she was a witch. It’s likely that she was shunned and feared for her condition.

5Natufian She-Shaman


Photo credit: Ratner/Reuters via the New York Daily News

In 2008, archaeologists discovered the tomb of a 12,000-year-old witch in northern Israel. Alongside her were 50 tortoise shells, a leopard pelvis, golden eagle wings, cow tails, two marten skulls, a wild boar’s forearm, and a human foot. The woman was roughly 45 and had a spinal deformation that caused her to limp and drag her foot. Ten heavy stones were placed on her body. This may have been to discourage animals—or it could have been to keep her spirit in the grave.

Experts believe the woman served as a spiritual leader for the Natufian civilization. Existing from 15,000 to 11,500 years ago, it was believed to be the first known human society to live in one place year-round. They represent the transition from foraging to organized agriculture. The grave goods suggest that the woman was perceived as being spiritually connected to the animal world.


4Scurvy Witch


Photo credit: Stefan Roascio/Elena Dellu via Digital Journal

In 2014, archaeologists unearthed the grave of 13-year-old witch in Northern Italy. Discovered in the San Calocero complex in Albenga, the girl was buried facedown. According to ancient beliefs, the soul left the body through the mouth. A facedown burial was a safeguard against an impure spirit escaping to threaten the living. Dated to the mid-1400s, the girl’s remains were discovered deeper in the tomb than other bodies and in an isolated part of the cemetery, which was typically reserved for the elite.

Analysis revealed that she stood under 152 centimeters (5’0″) and died of vitamin C deficiency. Her bones reflected severe anemia linked with scurvy. It is likely that the girl was pale with protruding eyes, bleeding limbs, and a frog-leg posture and may have suffered from epileptic seizures. Because her neighbors did not understand what was wrong with her; they feared her and buried her in the most humiliating way they knew.

3Rebecca Nurse Graveyard


Photo credit: Willjay

In Danvers, Massachusetts, one can find the Rebecca Nurse Homestead and Graveyard as well as the grave of a victim of witch hysteria. In 1692, the Putnam family accused their 71-year-old neighbor, Rebecca Nurse, of practicing witchcraft during a land dispute. A jury found Nurse innocent. However, they subsequently sentenced her to death after the judge asked them to reconsider. On July 19, 1692, Nurse was hanged and buried in unconsecrated ground near the gallows. Under cover of darkness, her family exhumed her and gave her a proper burial on their family land.

At the time Nurse lived, Danvers was known as Salem Village. Strangely, most of the graves of the victims of the Salem witch hunt have been lost to history. After the “witches” were tried, hanged, and buried, the locals never bothered to record their final resting places. Of the 19 victims, the graves of 17 are unaccounted for.

2Vampire Of Venice


Photo credit: National Geographic

In 2009, Italian archaeologists discovered the remains of a witch in a 16th-century mass grave of plague victims near Venice. The woman’s mouth had been forced open with a brick. At the time, inserting objects into the mouth of the dead was a common practice to prevent them from harming the living. Dubbed the “Vampire of Venice,” she was likely perceived as a cause of the plague. The brick may have been a crude attempt to stop the spread of the disease.

Paleonutritionists discovered that she had eaten mostly vegetables and grains, which suggests a lower-class diet. Experts believe she was between 60 and 70 years old. According to Medieval superstitions, the Devil granted witches the ability to cheat death. The Vampire of Venice’s advanced age made her a target. Of the 60,000 people executed during the European witch hunts between 1550 and 1650, the vast majority were elderly women.

1Nunnery Witch


Photo credit: John Moore Heritage Services via DigVentures

In 2015, while excavating a medieval Benedictine nunnery in Oxford, archaeologists discovered a series of “very unusual burials.” They unearthed the remains of a leper, a victim of violence, and a stillborn child. However, the most enigmatic remains were a young woman who was buried facedown. Often, this humiliating final resting position was reserved for witches. Curiously, her lower legs were later removed to make room for a baby burial—a rarity at a nunnery.

Founded in 1110, Littlemore Priory amassed more than its share of scandals before being dissolved in 1525. According to a 1517 account by Bishop Atwater, prioress Katherine Wells bore a child with a priest from Kent. A 1518 account insists that Wells “played and romped” with boys. Seven years later, Cardinal Wolsey shuttered the sanctuary. Most believe the decision was politically charged and the stories tainted to serve the interest of King Henry VIII.

10 Crazy Stories About The Rulers Of Ancient China

Post 8203

10 Crazy Stories About The Rulers Of Ancient China


The emperors of the ancient world held an incredible amount of power. Those who ruled over the kingdoms of ancient China were called the sons of Heaven. They were deified men whose every word was to be followed without question.

When a whole kingdom follows your every word, it can be hard to stay stable, but it’s easy to fall into a decadent and unstable life. That much power can drive a man insane. Sometimes, it did.

10King Zhou Of Shang Had A Lake Of Wine


As the reign of King Zhou went on, he started to get comfortable. He was the king of a great dynasty, and he resolved to enjoy it—in some absolutely unbelievable ways.

Zhou ordered the construction of the Pool Of Wine And Forest Of Meat, which was exactly what the name suggests. This was a massive, man-made lake filled with nothing but liquor. It was big enough for several canoes. In the center of the pool was a little island, dotted with trees. The tree’s branches, though, were skewers full of meat. Zhou and his concubines would pass their time drifting around in the canoes, drinking the liquor and plucking off meat.

As you might expect, all that decadence didn’t make King Zhou particularly popular. When he saw the people rising against him, Zhou set himself on fire—because, apparently, he was better at coming up with ideas for parties than painless suicide methods. His pool of liquor was destroyed, and his successors, who were significantly less fun, banned alcohol across the kingdom.


9King Wu Of Qin Died In Powerlifting Contest

King Wu was a massive hulk of a man, obsessed with showing off his muscles. He valued strength above all else. He kicked all the book-reading nerds out of power and filled the highest ranks in his kingdom with musclemen, chosen for their ability to lift heavy things above their heads.

That love for lifting heavy things would be his end. One of the strongest men in the kingdom, Meng Yue, challenged him to a cauldron-lifting contest. It seems that Meng won: While Wu was lifting his cauldron up, his knees snapped, and he collapsed.

Wu spent about eight months slowly and painfully dying before his body finally gave up, which was bad news for Meng. As his reward for soundly beating the king in a powerlifting contest, Meng and his entire family were hunted down and killed.

8Emperor Wu Of Jin Let A Goat Choose His Concubines


Photo credit: Yan Li-pen

One of the major benefits of being the emperor was the harems. They were meant to be a little perk for ruling the country, but for Emperor Wu, they were more of a distraction.

Emperor Wu dedicated most of his time to his harem. He would pull every pretty girl he could find out of her home to make her his concubine, especially preying on his officials’ daughters. This, for Emperor Wu, was important work—so much so that he made it a crime to get married until he was finished picking his concubines.

By the end, Emperor Wu had more than 10,000 women in his harem. To choose his partner for the night, he would ride around in a cart drawn by goats. When the goats stopped, he’d sleep with whichever woman they’d brought him to.


7Emperor Gaozu Peed In Scholars’ Hats


Photo credit: ShangGuan Zhou

Emperor Gaozu wasn’t the biggest supporter of education. He believed in military might and obedience to a strong, centralized government, and he didn’t really see any point in wasting time learning to read or discussing philosophy. “All I possess I have won on horseback,” he told one of his advisors. “Why should I bother with [the Books of] Odes and History?”

This wasn’t just simple disinterest; education actively enraged him. In Gaozu’s time, most scholars were followers of Confucius, and they walked with pointy hats. He spent most of his time launching into curse-filled tirades about how awful they were. When he actually saw a scholar, he’d rip off the scholar’s hat and pee in it.

When his advisor, Lu Jia, wrote a flattering book about his victories, though, Gaozu changed his tune. In one of history’s rare instances of someone admitting they were wrong, Gaozu set up Confucian schools across the empire and made it the state ideology.

6Emperor Xuanzong Had 40,000 Concubines


Photo credit: Shizhao

Traditionally, in Xuanzong’s time, emperors would release their concubines when their reign came to an end. Since it often only took a couple of years for someone to get fed up and assassinate the king, that meant that being a concubine was only a temporary position.

Xuanzong, however, stubbornly refused to die. His reign went on for 44 years, and his harem just kept getting bigger. By the end, he had over 40,000 women. Xuanzong almost certainly didn’t have time to meet them all, so instead, they just sat around learning poetry, mathematics, and the classics and taking care of mulberry trees.

That doesn’t mean he stopped adding to his harem, though. When he was 60 years old, Xuanzong made his own son divorce his wife so that he could make his daughter-in-law one of his concubines.

5Emperor Houfei Used His General’s Belly For Target Practice

Emperor Houfei was nine years old when he ascended to the throne. Nine, as the Chinese learned, is a bit too young to be given absolute power over an empire—and Emperor Houfei went mad with power in the way only a child could. He managed to survive for five years before people finally got fed up and killed him. The beginning of the end came when he saw his general, Xiao Daocheng, sleeping naked.

Houfei was captivated by the round bulge of Xiao’s massive belly, and he had a stroke of inspiration. He pinned a target to the general’s gut and used it as target practice. He would have used real arrows, but his attendant managed to convince him to use blunted ones. If he kept his general alive, his attendant told him, he could shoot arrows at his belly every day.

Xiao got his revenge. He sent a man into Houfei’s room while he was sleeping to cut off his head. Xiao then took over the empire himself.


4Emperor Jing Killed A Man For Beating Him At A Board Game


Photo credit: Sailko

Anyone who has flipped a Monopoly game in outrage has a kindred spirit in Emperor Jing. He lost his temper during a game of Liubo, an ancient Chinese game played on a heavy stone board. Emperor Jing was losing, and his opponent, apparently, hurt his feelings. He threw the stone board at his opponent’s head, hitting him so hard that he killed him.

Unfortunately for Emperor Jing, his opponent was the prince and heir to the Wu Empire. The King of Wu vowed revenge. He united seven kingdoms and led a revolt against Jing.

Emperor Jing, though, was better at war than he was at Liubo. He managed to crush the rebellion. Then he shrunk the kingdoms of those who dared to question him and his policy of killing anyone who beats him at a board game.

3King Fu Sheng Made It A Crime To Say ‘Without’

Legend has it that that King Fu Sheng’s eye was pecked out when he tried to steal an eagle’s eggs. That might be a myth, but the man was definitely blind in one eye, and he was a bit sensitive about it. He was so paranoid that he believed anyone who said the words “missing,” “lacking,” “less,” or “without” must be mocking him—so he made it a crime. Anyone who uttered one of those words in his presence was sentenced to death.

Murder was how Fu Sheng solved most of his problems. His astrologers advised him that if he didn’t change his ways, his reign would be short, but he didn’t really listen. Before his two years as king were up, he’d executed his wife, her father, and her uncle, and he was working his way through his own family.

When his cousins found out he was planning on taking them on next, they attacked his castle, pulled him out of his room, and had him dragged to death by a horse. For all of his efforts to stop people from making fun of him, Fu Sheng went down in history as the “One-Eyed Tyrant.”

2Emperor Wenxuan Walked Around Naked Wearing Makeup

Wenxuan’s reign started off well, but as time went on, he started devoting less and less time to managing the state and more and more time to getting blindingly drunk. It didn’t take long before he was nearly perpetually drunk, and he completely lost control. He had a bad habit of taking all of his clothes off, putting makeup on his face, and wandering into his noble’s bedrooms. He’d even wander around naked in the winter.

His worst habit, though, was getting drunk and killing people. One time, he stopped a woman on the street and asked, “What is the Son of Heaven like?” When she answered, “He is so crazy that he really cannot be considered a Son of Heaven,” he beheaded her.

This wasn’t an isolated event. He drunkenly killed people so often that whenever he got drunk, his minister would bring him a condemned prisonerto murder so that he could get it out of his system before he took it out on the innocent.

1Emperor Zhengde Liked To Play Make-Believe


Photo via Wikimedia

Zhengde became emperor when he was 13 years old, and he wasn’t quite done with the days of childhood. He still liked to make believe, and because he was the emperor, everyone else had to go along with it.

He would force his ministers to dress up as merchants so that he could pretend he was a commoner visiting their shops. This, under Emperor Zhengde, was an imperial duty. Anyone who would not play make-believe with him was removed from their post.

He built a 200-room building called the “Leopard Quarter” next to the imperial zoo. He and his friends would spend their time there drinking and hunting the animals in the zoo, pretending they were in the jungles chasing wild game.

Zhengde also told his people that he had an identical double named General Zhu Shou. He would give orders for them to pass on to Zhu Shou. Then he would change his clothes and come back out, now forcing everyone to call him Zhu Shou. His men would have to tell him his own orders, and he would pretend to be surprised.

For an imaginary person, Zhu Shou was actually a pretty capable general. Zhengde stayed in power until he turned 29. In the end, though, the liquor got him. Drunk out his mind, he fell out of a boat. The cold water left him with an illness that ended his life.

10 Harrowing Stories Of Man Against Animal

Post 8202

10 Harrowing Stories Of Man Against Animal


Modern life is easy. We live comfortably in our cities, sheltered from the forces of nature that, for thousands of years, left us vulnerable, weak, and scared.

On the edges of the wilderness, though, we’re not always so safe. There are times when the predators that prowl our forests turn from their usual prey toward people—and those people have been forced to fight tooth to nail to survive.

10The Bridal Party Attacked By Wolves

In March 1911, a Russian wedding turned into a massacre. A total of 120 people had gathered in the village of Obstipoff for the ceremony. When the service ended, they prepared for the 32-kilometer (20 mi) trip to Tashkend, where the banquet would be served.

It was to be a romantic ride, with horse-driven sleighs carrying the party through the snow. But as they grew closer to Tashkend, the horses started to get nervous. The party, too, had the feeling they were being followed. Then they saw what look liked a black cloud billowing over a hill. As it came closer, they realized what it was: hundreds of frenzied wolves charging straight at them.

Every man, woman and child in the sleighs lingering behind were devoured. The ones at the front pushed forward, but one by one, the wolves overtook them. Soon, only the bridal sleigh was left, with the bride, the groom, and two other men onboard.

Their only hope, the two men said, was to throw the bride to the wolves. Her newlywed husband was appalled. He tried to protect her, but this only won him the right to join her. Both bride and groom were cast to the animals. Together, on their first day as man and wife, they were devoured alive.

The men made it into town but were forced to live with what they’d done for the rest of their days.


9Vance Flosenzier Wrestled A Shark

Eight-year-old Jessie Arbogast was playing on the shores of Florida’s Santa Rosa Island with his family in 2001 when a bull shark attacked. His was in the shallow water with his cousin while their parents lounged on the beach—until they heard Jessie scream.

His uncle, Vance Flosenzier, rushed into the water. He grabbed the shark and pulled it off his nephew. It let go, but Jessie’s arm came with it, lodged in the shark’s throat.

While Vance’s wife carried the children to safety, he clung onto the shark’s tail, refusing to let go. “He knew he couldn’t let the shark go,” his wife would later relate. “There were other kids still in danger.”

Vance dragged the 91-kilogram (200 lb) shark by the tail onto an embankment. There, two park rangers rushed over to help. They shot the shark four times in the head and pried open its mouth. Then, with nothing but a towel and a set of tweezers, the men pulled Jessie’s severed arm out of the shark’s mouth.

Vance used towels to staunch Jessie’s bleeding, and they rushed him to the hospital. The boy had lost most of his blood, and he suffered permanent brain damage from the attack. Thanks to his uncle, though, his arm was reattached.

8Ben Cochrane’s Last Stand

Ben Cochrane was working as a trapper in Manitoba in 1922. He was alone by a river when he saw the wolves approach. They were massive timber wolves, coming from all sides. He had no hope of escape.

The only chance Cochrane had was his rifle and the few bullets he carried with him. He fired at the wolves, but doing so failed to scare them away. So he fired again and again, killing seven of them before his last bullet was spent.

Cochrane didn’t stop there. As the wolves pounced, he turned the gun around and beat them with the rifle stock, pounding against their heads. He managed to kill four before he’d smashed his weapon into bits against their skulls. At last, the wolves overpowered him. They tore his body to shreds.

“All that remained to tell of this grim northland tragedy were the trapper’s bones,” the papers reported when his body was found. “But the bones of eleven huge timber wolves which were found near the spot where Cochrane had been attacked, bore testimony of the unfortunate man’s fierce struggle for life against overwhelming odds.”


7Tanzania’s Greatest Man-Eater

For two years, the homes near the Rufiji River district in Tanzania were ravaged by a man-eating lion. They dubbed him Osama, named for the infamous terrorist. The lion ended at least 35 lives.

Osama rarely attacked in the open. Instead, he burst through the mud walls of homes or crawled through their thatched roofs. He was would seize hapless victims between his jaws and drag them outside to be devoured.

In Tanzania, this was a part of life. Around 200 people were killed by animalseach year, and Osama wasn’t the first lion to attack. It was believed that he had been taught to do so by his mother, who had preyed on the townsfolk before him. No single lion, though, matched Osama’s body count.

Finally, in 2004, game scouts hunted the lion and killed him. His image adorned posters around the town. Osama had become a symbol of the dangers that surrounded their homes. After the fact, it was determined that Osama had a cracked molar with a large abscess behind it. The toothache may have motivated him to choose tender-bodied humans as prey.

6The 62-Year-Old Man Who Fought A Cougar In His Home

In 1951, Ed McLean was 62 years old and lived alone in a cabin 10 kilometers (6 mi) away from the nearest human life. One day, he was out chopping wood for his stove and saw a cougar watching him. He hurried inside. That night, he looked out the window and saw that the cougar was still there, watching. McLean thought it might be attracted to the light, so he turned his lantern off.

The second the light went out, the cougar attacked. It burst through the window, locked its jaws onto McLean’s elbow, and knocked him to the floor.

McLean managed to get on top of the animal and dragged it toward the kitchen table. The knife resting on the table was his only chance. His mauled right arm was useless, so he grabbed it with his left and jammed it into the cougar’s throat. He kept pushing until it stopped struggling.

McLean rushed out into the cold Canadian winter, wearing nothing but his underwear. He made his way to a rowboat and spent two hours paddling to the nearest human life. When he got to the door of a cabin, McLean called for help, but no one was there. He passed out on the floor. He lay there for eight hours, unconscious and dying. Then, at last, someone found him, and Ed McLean survived.

5Paul Templar Survived Being Swallowed by A Hippo

Paul Templar was working as a river guide, taking tourists down the Zambezi River near Victoria Falls, when the hippo attacked. It emerged under another guide’s boat, flinging the man, named Evans, into the water.

Templar yelled to his group to get to the safety of a nearby cluster of rocks while he paddled toward Evans. He managed to grab hold of his friend’s hand—and he then felt a sudden darkness and slime all around him. He wastrapped in the hippo’s mouth.

The hippo crushed him with its teeth. It threw him in the air, caught him, and shook him like a dog with a chew toy. Then it dragged him down to the bottom of the river to drown him. Templar watched as his blood rose up out of his body.

At last, the hippo lurched up and spat him out. Another guide pulled him onto his kayak and paddled him to safety. By then, though, there were 40 puncture wounds on his body, and his left arm was crushed to a pulp. It was only by luck that a medical team was close enough to save his life.

Evans didn’t make it. His body was found two days later, drifted down the river.


4The Town Attacked By Wolves

Verkhoyansk is a Siberian town on the Arctic Circle. There are only 1,311 people there in all; they’re outnumbered by the 3,000 wolves in the wilderness around them. When a pack of 400 wolves surrounded the town, they were in trouble.

Within four days, 30 horses had been killed by the wolves. People were afraid to step out, and the governor called a state of emergency.

Verkhoyansk fought back. Wolf-hunting season was open like never before. The governor set a bounty of £210 for every wolf pelt claimed and promised a six-figure reward for whoever slaughtered the most of them. Teams of hunters patrolled the town on snowmobiles. Others went up in helicopters and gunned the wolves down from above.

By the end, the wolves had killed 313 horses, but the hunters had taken out 700 wolves. They would not be seen as easy prey again.

3The Wolves Of Paris

In winter 1450, the wolves near Paris were starving. The humans had pushed the limits of hunting in the forests, and the wolves struggled to find food outside. So, instead, they moved their hunts inside the city walls.

The walls were still damaged from the Hundred Years’ War, and the wolves were able to slip through. At first, they raided livestock, but they soon became bolder. A pack led by a red wolf with a bobbed tail went into the city and attacked. They devoured 40 people, targeting women and children.

When the wolves came back, the people were ready. A mob chased them until they were at the front of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. There, the people gathered up stones and threw them, stoning the animals to death.

2The Grandmother Who Took On A Bear

Sue Aikens was alone at the Kavik River Camp in Alaska, 800 kilomters (500 mi) from the nearest city and 130 kilometers (80 mi) from the closest road. She was a grandmother but by no means a frail woman. She’d spent much of her life there, a place where she said one has to be “comfortable with [their] death.”

One winter morning in 2007, she went to the river to gather water, unaware that a grizzly bear was waiting for her. It was hiding in the river, and when approached, it leaped out and snatched her. The bear rolled her onto her back and bit into her head.

Aikens went still and submissive. “Any movement is a sign of encouragement,” she later explained. “You accept what’s happening and say, ‘You’re the big guy.’ ” When the bear let her go, she went into the camp and patched herself up. Her wounds were serious. “I had to sew my own head together,” she said.

Aikens, though, didn’t let it go. She went back out with a gun and shot the bear dead. When the bear was down, she finally felt how much pain she was in. The bear had dislocated her hips, and she’d been moving on adrenaline alone. She collapsed, unable to move.

In time, a pilot spotted her and saved her, but for ten days, she lay there, alone with the body of the bear she’d beaten.

1The USS Indianapolis Shark Attack

On July 28, 1945, the USS Indianapolis delivered a cargo that would change the world: the components for the first atomic bomb to be dropped on Japan. Their shipment sent safely, the crew set course for Leyte Gulf, preparing to join the invasion of Japan.

They never made it. On the way, the Indianapolis was attacked by a Japanese submarine. The torpedoes ignited a tank of aviation fuel, setting off a chain reaction that ripped the ship in two.

The survivors in the water weren’t safe yet. The blood of the dead drew in sharks. At first, they preyed upon the dead, but in time, they turned to the living. The wounded were sent off on their own to keep their leaking wounds from drawing the sharks to the healthy.

For days, the men waited on the lifeboats. Some died from heat or thirst and fell into the water, where the sharks were waiting. Some victims dragged their comrades with them as the sharks pulled their next meal down underwater.

It took four days of being slowly picked off by sharks before a plane spotted the men. Of the 1,196 who were on the ship, only 317 remained.

10 Secrets Of The Sarcophagi

Post 8201

10 Secrets Of The Sarcophagi


The word “sarcophagus” derives from the Greek word for “flesh-eater.” These stone burial boxes were employed for millennia in ancient Egypt, the Hellenistic world, and the Roman Empire. Their use even continued into the Christian era, when they became a medium for religious iconography. These upper-class coffins are typically ornately adorned—not only with depictions of the deceased but images of their hopes, dreams, and fears. These images often reflect societal and spiritual ideals, along with cross-cultural stylistic influences.

10Flesh-Eating Sarcophagi


Photo credit: Valery Shanin/ via Ancient Origins

The ancient Turkish city of Assos is famed for its mysterious, flesh-eating sarcophagi. It typically takes between 50 and 200 years for a body to decompose, but the Assos sarcophagi can completely disintegrate a corpse within 40 days. These man-eating coffins are composed of andesite stone. Researchers are uncertain whether the stone itself is responsible for therapid decomposition. Others suggest the presence of aluminum may be the cause.

The flesh-eating coffins of Assos were originally called sarko fagos, which translates to “flesh-eater” in Greek and is the basis of the modern word “sarcophagus.” The Assos necropolis dates to the seventh century BC, with the first sarcophagus appearing two centuries later. The early burials were unadorned, with flat covers and cubic stone blocks bearing the deceased’s name. Roman-era sarcophagi became more elaborate, with elegant carvings and inscriptions to indicate who was contained within.


9Mystery Pharaoh Of Tomb KV55


Photo credit: Ministry of Antiquities via News Corp Australia

In 1907, archaeologists discovered a mysterious sarcophagus in Tomb KV55 in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. To this day, the identity of its inhabitant remains a mystery. Within the tomb, researchers found four canopic jars, a gilded shrine, furniture, and a single sarcophagus. The coffin had been desecrated. Someone ripped off the decorative face mask and chiseled away its owner’s name.

Some believe the sarcophagus belonged to Queen Tiye. Others insist it is King Smenkhkare. The prevailing theory is that it is the final resting place of Akhenaten. Researchers recently stumbled upon a long-forgotten box from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. It contains 500 golden sheets, skull fragments, and a note in French, indicating that the gold was discovered in a sarcophagus within KV55. Most believe that sarcophagus is the mystery one. The four alabaster canopic jars are empty but contain effigies of women believed to have been Akhenaten’s daughters.

8Child Star Sarcophagus


Photo credit: Trustees of the British Museum via The Daily Telegraph

In 1888, the British Museum purchased a sarcophagus containing the remains of an ancient child star. Seven-year-old Tjayasetimu was a member of the royal choir of ancient Egypt. Standing just 122 centimeters (4’0″), she was wrapped in painted bandages, and her face was covered with a veil and golden mask before burial. Researchers have employed computerized tomography to investigate what lies under the bandages.

Researchers were able to see her adult teeth pushing behind her baby teeth as well as shoulder-length hair. Experts believe the singer likely died of a rapid illness, like cholera. Tjayasetimu was too small for her sarcophagus, which might indicate a hasty burial. Hieroglyphics and paintings on the coffin reveal that Tjayasetimu was a “singer of the interior,” suggesting that she had an elite role in the choir of the Temple of Amun. The young musician was important enough to merit a burial befitting royalty and ancient Egypt’s wealthiest families.


73,000-Year-Old Fingerprints


Photo credit: The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge via BBC News

In 2005, researchers at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge discoveredancient fingerprints on a 3,000-year-old sarcophagus lid. Experts believe these prints belong to the coffin’s craftsman, who would have handled the lid before the varnish dried. Dated to around 923 BC, the sarcophagus belonged to an ancient Egyptian priest named Nespawershefyt. Although the fingerprints were discovered in 2005, they were only announced in 2016 in preparation for Death on the Nile, an exhibit chronicling 4,000 years of Egyptian coffin design.

The oldest Egyptian fingerprints found so far date to 1300 BC and were discovered in a preserved loaf of bread from a tomb in Thebes. The oldest human fingerprints known belong to child who handled a ceramic statuette in what is now the Czech Republic around 26,000 years ago. However, prehuman fingerprints go back much further. Archaeologists discovered an 80,000-year-old Neanderthal print on a weapon-making tool in Neu Konigsaue, Germany.

6Inconvenient Sarcophagus


Photo credit: Yuli Schwartz/Israel Antiquities Authority via Ancient Origins

In 2015, the Israeli Antiquities Authority reported that they had acquired an 1,800-year-old sarcophagus after construction workers hid it. The 2.4-meter (8 ft), 2-ton limestone coffin suffered damage from the builders’ manhandling. The sarcophagus design contains a gorgon head, cupids, bulls’ heads, floral arrangements, and an image of young man. Experts believe the man depicted is the deceased. He is depicted with a short-sleeve, embroidered shirt and curly hair, in typical Roman fashion.

Dated to around the third century AD, the sarcophagus was found at Ashkelon. The ancient city’s population was a gumbo of Jews, Samaritans, and pagan Romans, all of whom influenced the sarcophagus’s design. Experts believe the sarcophagus was hidden to prevent delays in the building schedule. Representatives of the Antiquities Authority have referred to the coffin as “one of the rarest sarcophagi ever discovered in Israel.”

5Silk Road Sarcophagus


Photo via The Australian

In 1999, archaeologists discovered a white, marble sarcophagus reflecting the extent of cross-cultural interaction along the ancient Silk Road. Located in China’s Shanxi province, the coffin belonged to Yu Hong and his wife, who were interred between AD 592 and 598. The sarcophagus resembles a Chinese-roofed house. Its panels weigh 4,200 kilograms (9,259 lb) and rest on lions. Hybrid bird-men flank a fire altar in Zoroastrianism-inspired panels right next to Buddhist imagery of lotus blossoms and cross-legged meditating figures.

Yu Hong was a sixth-century Central Asian diplomat. DNA tests revealed he was Caucasian, leading some speculate that he was Sogdian, a Central Asian culture of merchants, musicians, and entertainers. Based on the presence of Tang-era coins, archaeologists believe the tomb was robbed sometime between 618 and 906. Some claim the thieves were “careless.” However, it’s possible they left the coins as part of a grave robber superstition.


4Tabnit Sarcophagus


Photo credit: oncenawhile

In 1887, a minister from the US discovered a sarcophagus that is considered to be one of the most fascinating artifacts of the enigmatic Phoenician culture. Dated to the fifth century BC, the sarcophagus held Tabnit, a priest of Astarte and ruler of Sidon. The coffin contained an oily, brown liquid, which preserved Tabnit’s remains. Only his extremities, like his lips, nose, and throat, had decayed. An autopsy revealed that Tabnit died around age 50 from smallpox.

A mysterious blend of hieroglyphics and Phoenician script cloak the Tabnit sarcophagus. This short-lived hybrid script developed around the fifth century BC and attests to the connection between Egypt and their northern neighbors. When Tabnit was initially displayed, his remains were exposed to sunlight, which caused rapid decomposition. Today, only his bones remain. The discovery of the sarcophagus and its removal to the British Museum caused an international scandal and a radical reaction from the Ottomans.

3High Priest Hieroglyphics


Photo credit: Ministry of Antiquities, Egypt via Ancient Origins

In 2015, archaeologists discovered the sarcophagus of a high priest of Amun Ra covered in mysterious, holy hieroglyphics. Unearthed on the west bank of Luxor, the coffin dates to the 22nd Dynasty (943–716 BC). The plaster-covered wooden sarcophagus was found in the tomb of Amenhotep-Huy, vizier of Nubia during the reign of Pharaoh Amenhotep III (1391–1353 BC). The deceased’s name was Ankh-f-n-khonsu. On the front of the sarcophagus, he is portrayed wearing a crown of flowers and ribbons, a necklace, and a wig with a ceremonial beard.

Being from the 22nd Dynasty, the sarcophagus is younger than the 14th-century-BC tomb that contained it. The burial chamber also contained Ankh-f-n-khonsu’s Steele of Revealing, a funerary tablet that depicts the deceased making ritual offerings dressed in the traditional leopard-skin garb of a high priest of Amun Ra. The tomb’s walls contain images of figures in Nubian attire, reflecting Amenhotep-Huy’s sphere of influence.

2Untouched Etruscan Sarcophagus


Photo credit: Soprintendenza Archeologia Dell’Umbria via Ancient Origins

In 2015, Italian archaeologists excavating an untouched tomb discovered two sarcophagi, which shed light on the enigmatic Etruscan civilization. A farmer accidentally unearthed the 2,400-year-old tomb while plowing his field near Perugia. One sarcophagus is made of alabaster and marble and contains a male skeleton. It also bears a lengthy inscription and the name “Lars,” hinting at the deceased’s identity. The second sarcophagus is made of painted plaster. However, this fragile final resting place was shattered at some point in the past, and its secrets remain scattered among thousands of fragments.

The Etruscans flourished in Western Italy around Tuscany between 900 and 500 BC. While they introduced writing, winemaking, and roadbuilding to much of Europe, precious little is known of them. The sarcophagi are significant, since Etruscan artifacts are so rare. Researchers believe these ancient burials will provide insight into Etruscan sociopolitical organization, customs, and religious beliefs—particularly about the afterlife.

1Mystery Of The Bearded Man


Photo credit: Walters Art Museum

A mummy portrait attached to a Roman-Egyptian sarcophagus has tantalized archaeologists since its discovery. Dated between AD 170 and 180, this depiction of the deceased became detached from its sarcophagus and mummy long ago. The identity of the Bearded Man remains a mystery. Many have noted that he appears Byzantine. For years, his slight pout has mystified and fascinated researchers. They hope analysis of the pigment might bring them closer to the mystery man’s identity.

Roughly 900 mummy portraits have been found to date. They made their appearance beginning with the Roman occupation of Egypt in the first century AD and remained popular for about 200 years. These likenesses were painted on wooden boards and affixed to sarcophagi where the head would have been. The portraits are so naturalistic that researchers have used them to identify family members by comparing similarities. Most mummy portraits have been discovered at the acropolis of Faiyum.

Dubbed the “Indiana Jones of folk music,” Geordie McElroy has hunted spell songs, incantations, and arcane melodies for the Smithsonian, Sony Music Group, and private collectors. A leading authority in occult music, he is also singer of the LA-based bandBlackwater Jukebox.