Today, we have several problems, but bloodthirsty vampires are not among them. Modern-day humans tend to dismiss the possible existence of vampires as mere folklore, but the narrative was quite different a few hundred centuries ago — humanity’s fear of being jumped and hunted by the sharp-toothed mythical creatures peaked in the 1600s and 1700s, especially in the West.
And over the years, we’ve come across several mysterious pieces of evidence that have shown burial techniques reserved for individuals suspected to be vampires — the most recent of them being uncovered in Poland in late August this year.
Polish researchers recently came across the remains of a 17th-century woman at a cemetery in the village of Pień, Poland. Nothing out of the ordinary, right?
Well, this was no regular burial, as the body was found with a sickle around its neck and a triangular padlock on its toe — pointing to vampire burial methods that were prevalent in those regions at the time!
Legends say that the sharp-bladed sickle, a common farming tool, was usually placed to decapitate the alleged ‘vampire’ in case it came back from the dead (as vampires are wont to do) and tried to sit up. The padlock, on the other hand, signifies the ‘impossibility of return’.
Further, the corpse also sported one single elongated tooth and was buried with a silk cap on her head which, as per experts, likely meant she had high social standing.
Of course, chances are the woman 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.
In some parts of Europe — among Slavic people, in particular — the belief in the legends of vampires became so widespread that it caused a mass frenzy and led to executions of people thought to be vampires.
People who passed unexpectedly, like by suicide, were frequently accused of being vampires, and their bodies were dismembered to prevent their revival.
In those parts of Poland, it is not unusual to see graves where the deceased have been buried with a metal rod or stake driven through their heads. At the time, people thought this was one way to guarantee that the person would remain dead.
Back in 2015, archaeologists discovered five skeletons interred similarly at a 400-year-old cemetery in the village of Drewsko, 290 kilometres away from Pień. Numerous such spectacles have been found across Europe.
Researchers are slowly uncovering the past, and studies like this not only reveal what customs and beliefs humans held back then, but also serve to show how our psyche and minds have evolved over the centuries.
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