Body of ‘witch’ tormented 1,600 years ago found buried with one arm behind back

The body of a young ‘witch’ buried around 1,600 years ago has been unearthed by archaeologists.

The woman was found face down with her left hand fixed behind her back – a position hat was apparently used in witch burials to ensure that they do not return from the dead and haunt the villagers.

It is thought that she was the lover of a wealthy man, who would have blamed her ‘magic powers’ as the reason behind his adultery. This accusation would have been the cause of her torture by the villagers.

The bones of the woman, who was aged just 25, were unearthed in the village of Lehedzyne in central Ukraine.

Most women accused of witchcraft tended to be older yet occasionally young women found themselves accused of witchcraft, usually if they ended up in relationships with the wrong man or even if they had been sexually abused by a man of influence.

Typically the man would claim that he had been ‘bewitched’ by love potions used by the younger woman that would then result in the death of the lover.

In the latest discovery by archaeologists Borys Mahomedov and Serhiy Didenko, the grave also lacked any of the traditional gifts that typically marked graves of the time indicating that the person was somehow cursed.

Objects like ceramic pots and plates with the remains of food in the grave was typical of the local culture’s burial traditions in the third and fourth centuries AD.

It is the first time a grave like this has been found in the region.


Mr Mahomedov from Institute of Archeology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, said: "This woman lived in times of the Chernyakhov culture. Her grave differs from burial traditions that existed in this area in the third and fourth centuries AD."

The Chernyakhov culture is an archaeological culture that flourished between the 2nd and 5th centuries AD in a wide area of Eastern Europe, specifically in what is now Ukraine, Romania, Moldova and parts of Belarus.

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