Medieval Europeans frequently reopened graves — and to not rob them


Hundreds of graves dating from the fifth century to the seventh century AD in an area stretching from Transylvania to England were opened as part of regular mortuary customs in order to remove artifacts, move bodies around and even add a dog to the burial, according to new research published in the journal Antiquity.

In 10 to 15 graves, the feet were removed from the dead or their skulls twisted around, which showed the living were worried about the dead walking again, lead author Alison Klevnäs, an archaeologist and researcher at Stockholm University, told CNN.

In one case, a dog was added to the grave, which Klevnäs said is a “very unusual example” that demonstrated people wanted to please the dead individual.

“What we have is another dimension to the burial practices of this period,” she said.

The research pooled data from five archaeologists working in different parts of Europe.

Most of what we know about the early medieval period has come from studying these cemeteries, Klevnäs added.

“Usually they (grave openers) treat the graves and the bodies within them with…