A team of British researchers recently published their findings that they believe show medieval villagers mutilated corpses to stop the dead from rising. Their theory is based on evidence from examining 137 bones found in a deserted village in North Yorkshire. The bones show signs of knife marks which indicate the corpses had been decapitated and dismembered. There was also evidence the villagers burned the corpses. It’s know from folklore in the Middle Ages it was believed people could rise from the dead.
Decapitation, dismemberment and burning shows up in writings from the Medieval times as a way for the living to deal with the living dead.
Other theories for why the villagers treated corpses this way (ie. they were cannibalized by starving villages) have been discounted by experts.
In the Middle Ages, it was believed that zombies were the results of those who had committed evil deeds while they were alive that resulted in a “lingering malevolent life-force”.
“The finds appear to represent the first good archaeological evidence of practices aimed at stopping corpses from rising from their graves and menacing the living.”