Superstitions die hard, and popular cultures in many regions are full of allusions to evil creatures like the famous vampires. In European folklore, these blood drinkers can traditionally be repelled with a healthy dose of garlic. But the Poles of the 17th century had a slightly more extreme way of getting rid of it once and for all.
In any case, this is what a spectacular body found near the Polish town of Pień suggests. In work spotted by Ars Technica, archaeologists explain having found the skeleton of a woman buried with a padlock around the toe and an sickle around the neck. And for the researchers, it is a way of cutting short – literally – any attempt at resurrection.
“ The sickle was not laid flat, but placed on the neck so that the person would be decapitated if they tried to get up “Explains Dariusz Polińsk, the archaeologist who led this work, in an interview with the Daily Mail. The presence of the padlock, on the other hand, would be entirely symbolic. ” It represents the end of an era and the impossibility of return”says the researcher.
An anti-vampire security device
The gravediggers were visibly worried that the resident of this tomb would come back from the dead for revenge. It remains to be seen why, and specialists have a fairly clear idea of the answer; for them there is a clear connection with the folklore of many Eastern European countries; they are often teeming with demonic creatures, some of which suck the blood of their victims. The Smithsonian Magazine explains that as early as the 11th century, local people began to practice various anti-vampire rituals when burying their dead.
In this context of tenacious superstition, the slightest physical peculiarity could therefore trigger real hysteria. And that’s probably what happened to the woman found by archaeologists. She actually presented a very prominent incisor ; a particularly heavy distinctive sign to bear at this time when everyone lived in constant fear of vampires.
A distinctive sign heavy to bear
One might therefore expect that the victim met a brutal end; the populations of the time were not renowned for their benevolence towards witches and other supernatural entities. Indeed, the inhabitants often took all their precautions to prevent these individuals from coming back to haunt them. According to Polińsk, this often involved a complete mutilation of corpses ; they were often decapitated, dismembered, or burned.
However, the body was in good condition. The researchers do not mention any trace of trauma that could suggest an execution. On the contrary, she would even have been buried with care. Archaeologists also found the remains of a silk headgear. These elements suggest that the victim enjoyed a relatively high social rank. Perhaps it was this status that prompted the locals to fall back on these rather unusual countermeasures instead of ripping the corpse to shreds.
Be that as it may, this device seems to have worked wonderfully since, according to the latest news, the person concerned did not get up to go and have a feast of hemoglobin in the neighboring village!