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An Astonishing Excavation

Researchers recently found a skeleton, surrounded by mysteries, while excavating an ancient cemetery in a 17th Century Polish village. They actually discovered the remains of a woman, and the discovery triggered quite a stir among researchers.

The ancient cemetery

Pień is a small village, located in the southern part of Poland, where a group of researchers was excavating the cemetery in August 2022. The remains of the woman found by them are believed to be of no ordinary lady. Many are of the opinion that she was a vampire. They have come to this conclusion because of the manner in which the body was buried. After removing the layers of soil, researchers discovered that a sickle-pitch was placed horizontally on the neck of the skeleton, so that the sharp weapon would decapitate her, if she made an attempt to get up. Her left leg, too, has surprised the researchers, as they found that the dead woman had a padlock around her big toe, symbolising “the closing of a stage and the impossibility of returning“.

The skeleton

The lady was buried with a silk cap on her head, which was a luxury commodity in the 17th Century. It means that the woman used to enjoy a high social status during her lifetime. Her teeth still remained intact, although there is a protruding tooth located at the front of her mouth. The tooth is very large and angled outward. Some have found this tooth to be similar to the traditional concept of vampire’s teeth. Furthermore, the body was uncovered in an anti-vampire burial.

Dariusz Poliński, the Professor of Archaeology at Nicholas Copernicus University and the Lead Researcher, stressed: “The sickle was not laid flat, but placed on the neck in such a way that if the deceased had tried to get up, the head would have been cut off or injured.” Dr Poliński added: “Other ways to protect against the return of the dead include cutting off the head or legs, placing the deceased face down to bite into the ground, burning them, and smashing them with a stone.

The silk cap

In the 11th Century, people in Eastern Europe used to believe that the dead could rise from the grave even after death. That would be her/his rebirth as a vampire! Then, they would disturb the traditional social life. In that cemetery (and also in other cemeteries) in Poland, several skeletons were found whose heads had been crushed with metal rods. People believed that they would never try to return, if the corpses were smashed in this manner. People in some parts of Eastern Europe believed in the concept of vampires. The belief was so strong that many people were killed just because of suspicion. It was also believed that one could return as a vampire even if the person died unnaturally… by committing suicide or due to accident. Their bodies were buried in a special manner.

Earlier in 2015, researchers had excavated a 400-year-old cemetery in a village, 200km from Pień, and found five skeletons lying in a similar posture. Sickles were there just above their necks. An old woman’s skeleton had a sickle attached to its back and stones attached to its neck. While one of those skeletons was of a 14-year-old girl, another was of a 35-year-old man, and the third one was of a 60-year-old lady. Such skeletons have often been found in different parts of Poland.

However, some researchers have given different explanations of such burial. They have opined that sharp weapons and stones were also buried, along with the deceased, so that they would not be harmed and could rest safely beneath the ground. According to local belief, it was done during the burial in order to protect them from witchcraft or black magic. Of course, there are chances that the woman, whose skeleton has recently been discovered, was just a regular person who stood out because of her tooth, and became a victim of the hysteria that plagued people of those times. As reported by Heritage Daily, graves, found in Kraków, contained skeletons with their heads cut off in order to prevent resurrection. In Kamie Pomorskie, a corpse was found with a brick forced into the mouth.

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