Last August, the remains of a noblewoman were found in a 17th and 18th century cemetery in the city of Pien, Poland. Numerous richly dressed corpses had already appeared in the area, wearing luxurious clothes and jewels of gold and precious stones. Even the noblewoman to whom the recently found body must have belonged was no exception to this trend: she had in her head a silk cap, a material reserved for the upper classes of society.
However, the element that attracted the attention of the researchers of the Nicolaus Copernicus University of Torún, in Poland, is represented by a scythe. Around the woman’s neck, in fact, the superstitious inhabitants of Pian they had placed this sharp tool usually used to harvest the crop. The researchers interpreted this peculiarity as an attempt by fellow citizens to prevent the deceased from rising from the grave. to terrify them in the form of a bloodthirsty vampire.
Not only. A padlock was found around the victim’s big toe. According to the beliefs of the time this prevented the soul of the deceased from regaining possession of the body in an unnatural way.
Fear of the undead
In reality, strange as it may seem, it was not something exceptional: this type of burial was quite common at the time. It was then a widespread belief that the devil operated at the hands of certain types of witches and hags, who were attributed with magical powers. like that of resurrecting after death.
It is no coincidence that one of the worst slaughters in Polish history dates back to this period: between the 17th and 18th centuries over 15,000 women accused of witchcraft were burned at the stake, drowned or hanged. At that time, vampirism was linked to witchcraft, as it was believed to have its origin in a pact with Lucifer similar to that made by the witches to acquire their evil abilities.
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How to kill a vampire
All those suspected of being vampires were executed and buried in a special way: they were sometimes nailed to the coffin; sometimes they were beheaded. In some cases a stake was planted in his heart and in others, as in the case of the Polish noblewoman, they were buried with a pointed object around their neck. Although this is the first burial with a scythe found in Poland, in 2008 in Krakow, beheaded bodies were found to which, in 2014, the remains of a man were added. whose teeth had been broken by a brick and whose leg had been nailed to the ground. The symbolism of this burial was quite evident.
According to the hypothesis of the director of the excavations, Dariusz Poliński, the long incisors of the woman recently found may have misled his contemporaries and inducing them to convict her for vampirism; on the other hand, the absence of signs of violence on the corpse would suggest that those who buried it thought rather that the young woman had been bitten by an undead. In this second case, the scythe around the neck would have prevented the woman, perhaps dead of some disease, to turn into a vampire too.
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