Archaeologists have discovered a grave of a “female vampire” from the 17th century in Poland. An iron sickle lay around the neck of the deceased, and a padlock was on the big toe of her left foot. According to the publication Arkeonews, it is possible that the appearance of the deceased was the reason for the unusual ceremony. In the practice of archaeologists, deviant burials are sometimes encountered. They are distinguished by the funeral ritual, which differs from that generally accepted in the respective culture. For example, the dead may be buried outside the cemetery or only some parts of the body. There can be many reasons for the appearance of deviant burials, related to both the belief system and the circumstances of the life and death of people buried in an unusual way. One of the categories of non-standard burials are the graves of so-called vampires.
Archaeologists believe that such burials contain the remains of people who were feared by others – they were afraid that the deceased would rise from his grave. To prevent this from happening, stones were placed in the mouths of the dead, they were mutilated and even nailed to the ground. In addition, placing sickles and hair on the neck or abdomen was practiced. Someone could be defined as a “vampire” because of unusual appearance, witchcraft, suicide, or being one of the first victims of epidemics. Similar rites were performed in many cultures, for example, in Italy a ten-year-old “vampire child” was found who died in the 5th century. And in the USA they even identified one of the “vampires” from the 19th century with the help of DNA analysis.
Professor Dariusz Poliński from Nicholas Copernicus University headed the archaeological dig that led to the discovery of the remains, which were found wearing a silk cap and with a protruding front tooth, the Daily Mail reported Friday. Polish archaeologists from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń under the leadership of Prof. Dariusz Polinski conducted excavations near the town of Bydgoszcz (Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship), where in 2005 – 2009 an early medieval necropolis whose burials contained valuable inventory was investigated. This year, however, scientists focused on an adjacent burial complex from the 17th century, damaged as a result of agricultural work. In one of the burials, archaeologists discovered the remains of a “female vampire”. An iron sickle lay around her neck, and a padlock was placed on the big toe of her left foot. At the same time, the remains of a silk hat were preserved on the skull of this woman, which may indicate her rather high status, since it was a very expensive item in the 17th century. Perhaps the reason why the locals buried her in such an unusual way lies in the woman’s unusual appearance – her front tooth protruded forward. According to Polinsky, usually the rite of “disposal” of the deceased consists, for example, of cutting off the head or legs, or placing the deceased in the grave face down. Currently, the discovered remains have been transported to Toruń, where they will be subjected to a detailed examination.
Photo: Female ‘vampire’ with a sickle across her throat found in Pień, Poland. (Mirosław Blicharski)