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Potential vampires in the 17th-18th century buried with rocks, sickles to ward off evil
Caption: Individual 49/2012 (30-39 year old female) is shown with a sickle placed across the neck.
Potential ‘vampires’ buried in northwestern Poland with sickles and rocks across their bodies were likely local and not immigrants to the region, according to a study published November 26, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Lesley Gregoricka from University of South Alabama and colleagues.
In northwestern Poland, apotropaic funerary rites–a traditional practice intended to prevent evil–occurred throughout the 17th-18th c. AD. Those of the dead considered at risk for becoming vampires for a variety of reasons were given specific treatment, and investigating these burial practices may provide insight into community cultural and social practices, as well as the social identities of people living in the area at the time. Excavations at a cemetery in northwestern Poland have revealed six unusual graves, with sickles across the bodies or large rocks under the chins of select individuals, amidst hundreds of normal burials. To better understand whether the bodies selected for apotropaic burial rites were local or non-local immigrants, the authors of this study tested permanent molars from 60 individuals, including 6 “special” or deviant burials, using radiogenic strontium isotope ratios from archaeological dental enamel. They then compared the results to strontium isotopes of local animals. Continue reading “Post-medieval Polish buried as potential ‘vampires’ were likely local”