Medieval Witches Graveyard Discovered In Italy

Illustration for article titled Medieval Witches Graveyard Discovered In Italy

Here's a macabre reminder of what happened to women who got out of line in medieval times. 800-year-old remains were found with seven nails driven through the jaw bone, leading archaeologists to conclude that the woman was believed to be a witch. The area in Tuscany is thought to be a witches graveyard, since another female skeleton was found surrounded by 17 dice, a game women were forbidden to play. The women, who were around 25 to 30 years old, were buried in shallow graves with no coffin or shroud, and the first had 13 nails strewn around her that were used to pin down her clothes. Archaeologist Alfonso Forgione says, "This indicates to me that it was an attempt to make sure the woman even though she was dead did not rise from the dead and unnerve the locals who were no doubt convinced she was a witch with evil powers."


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Unfortunately, this isn't just a medeival problem. There are countries in Africa currently dealing with children being abandoned, exorcized, abused, or killed, due to beliefs about witchcraft. Usually "preachers" claim that issues in a village are because of witchcraft and they find a family who has had recent problems and blames a child. It's horrifying. I watched a doc on it a few months ago, groups who are trying to stop it and get the information out there that this is wrong. It's sadly not isolated or rare. And there are also issues with people seeking out "witchcraft" solutions to AIDS, which I won't even mention because they're too awful. I don't want to make this seem like it's an African problem as it's not, but unfortunately it is an issue in many African countries right now.

Then you get stuff here in the US, like the satanism and witchcraft scares in the 90's, and the fact that plenty of fundamentalist Christian groups act like witchcraft is a real thing. When I was a teen I was accused of being a witch by classmates because I didn't go to church and was raised agnostic Buddhist. It was...unpleasant.

And then you have people who are actual Pagans or Wiccans, or non-affiliated Witches, and they get plenty of flak for it. I'm as skeptical of that stuff as I am any other religious belief, but it's no weirder than the sacrament or walking on water stuff. And it's certainly not evil.

All of that is to say that the more information about witch trials the better. It's horrible and awful, but it's a good reminder of what fear can do.