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When Irish Zombies Are Smiling

Updated on September 16, 2011

Every now and then, I find a news story that I can't pass up. Like this one:

To summarize, archaeologists near Loch Key in Ireland have found two skeletons with large stones wedged into their mouths — possible evidence that it was feared the individuals would rise from their graves as flesh-eating zombies.

The "Irish zombie" skeletons were found by a team of archaeologists led by Chris Read from the Institute of Technology in Sligo, Ireland and Thomas Finan from the University of St. Louis. 137 Skeletons were found so far as part of the project, but it is speculated that another 3,000 remain to be discovered.

The "zombie burials" were comprised of two men who were buried there around the year 700, one estimated to be between 40 and 60 years old, the other between 20 and 30.

So here's where I have to take a step back and look at this logically. How do we know they were zombies. If they were zombies, wouldn't it have made more sense to just behead them? I understand about the religion of the day and the mouth being the portal to whatever, but really, chopping the head off should be a no-brainer in any age.

Okay, here's a thought---what if the stones were inserted before death? I meet about six people a day whom I think should have a large stone wedged in their mouth and if it were socially acceptable, I would be happy to help with its insertion. Maybe these guys were jerks. Or maybe they were married. There are at least six times a day my wife thinks I should have a large stone wedged in my mouth and if it were socially acceptable, she would be happy to help with its insertion. Maybe there weren't Irish zombies, maybe the social customs were just different then. Can you imagine on a 90 degree day, some clown says "Hot enough for ya?" and then Lars is well within his rights to jam a stone in his face? I like it. I knew I was born in the wrong age.

But what if the skeletons really were Irish zombies? What does this do to zombie mythology? Were they Romero-esque sleepwalkers who crave human flesh, or were they "Return of the Living Dead" zombies with punk rock hairdos and a craving for brains? If all the locals had to stop them was large stones, how did we survive the "Zombie Outbreak of 700?" These are the imponderable questions that make archaeology so darn cool.


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