The skeleton of a “vampire” woman was found in a Polish cemetery from the 17th century.
He was found immobilized to prevent the deceased woman from returning from the grave.
The skeleton had a sickle resting on its throat and a padlock on its big toe.
The remains of a woman who may have been a vampire were found in a 17th-century Polish cemetery – with a sickle around her neck to prevent the woman from rising from the dead.
Professor Dariusz Poliński from the Nicolaus Copernicus University led the archaeological excavations that led to the discovery of the skeleton, the Daily Mail reported.
“The sickle was not laid flat, but placed around the neck in such a way that if the deceased tried to get up, the head would most likely be severed or injured,” Poliński told the Daily Mail.
The remains discovered in the village of Pień near Ostromecko in Poland appear to be of a young woman buried in the 17th century. According to the Daily Mail, the traces of a silk cap on her head suggested that she was of higher social status.
“Such a discovery, especially here in Poland, is astonishing, especially now – centuries later,” Poliński told CBS. “Pure astonishment.”
A triangular padlock was placed around the big toe of her left foot, indicating that the people who buried the woman feared that she might rise from the grave, perhaps because they thought she was a vampire.
The remains, which were discovered in August, are being studied further by scientists. CBS reported that scientists from the Institute of Archeology of the University of Krakow will study DNA from the skeleton to learn more about the woman
Vampire funeral rituals that have evolved over time
The practice of “vampire” burials spanned Christian Europe from as early as the 14th century and well into the 17th century, Matteo Borrini, chief lecturer in forensic anthropology at Liverpool’s John Moore University, told Insider.
He said “vampire” outbreaks were often associated with times when people died from causes that couldn’t be explained by the science of the time – like a pandemic or mass poisoning.
“These ‘vampires’ start hunting and killing family members first, then neighbors, then a whole other village. It’s a classic pattern of a disease that’s contagious,” he said.
Borrini discovered in Venice the remains of a woman who died in the 16th century, which he showed after thorough scientific research were the burial place of a “vampire”.
The remains were found in a mass grave filled with plague victims. This body had a stone placed carefully in its mouth.
He said that at the time it was believed that humans could become Nachzehrers, vampires who chew through their shrouds and rise from the dead to bite the living and spread the plague.
Later, as knowledge evolved, people believed that vampires rose from the dead and suffocated people at night. Borrini said this could be a way to explain the chest pain caused by the leading cause of death in Europe at the time: tuberculosis.
It wasn’t until the Victorian era that vampires were said to bite the neck and suck blood, which was then used in books as “a kind of metaphor for sex,” Borrini said.
A “vampire” or a regular phantom?
Borrini said further research was needed to confirm it was the burial of a person suspected of being a vampire.
He said that there were many superstitions related to death in Europe at the time, and not all of them concerned vampires. Bodies were found locked up in their final resting place, nailed to the bottom of the grave, with stones weighing down their feet or rose thorns on the graves.
He said these were all ways to keep the body from rising, which wasn’t necessarily related to vampirism.
A sickle can mean something completely different. For example, a 2015 article on remains buried in Poland with sickles around various body parts reviewed cases where historians had suggested that agricultural tools could be a sign of social status.
Bodies that were clearly thought to be vampires were found with stakes through their hearts, beheaded, burned or with stones in their mouths, Borrini said.
“The fact that feet were locked in graves is something well known, not necessarily to vampires, but in all situations where we feared that person would come back,” he said.
Read the original article in Business Insider