The skeleton lies on its side and the mouth is wide open because a stone has been pushed between the jaws.
This lurid ritual, called a “vampire burial”, was carried out to prevent angry forces from rising up from the grave to go after the living.
In this case, the archaeologists think that the evil forces were a malaria epidemic, making Italy around 470 AD. was plagued.
More vampire funerals are known in Italy
An elderly woman, the Venice Vampire, was buried with a stone in her mouth in the 16th century.
And countries such as England and Poland also had such funerals.
Archaeologists from Italy and the USA have been excavating at La Necropoli dei Bambini (children’s cemetery) in Lugnano since 1987.
The 10-year-old child is so far the oldest that has been found, but not the only one buried under bizarre circumstances.
For example, a grave was found of a three-year-old girl whose hands and feet were weighted with stones so that she could not resurrect.
Children were also buried with raven claws, toads and bronze cauldrons filled with sacrificed dolls.
The finds testify that superstition and witchcraft were still very common in the late Roman times, when Christianity became the dominant religion.