“Vampire” woman buried with a scythe on her throat to prevent her from awakening: the macabre ritual

In a 17th-century Polish cemetery, archaeologists found the remains of a woman buried with a ritual to lock her to the ground. They feared she was a vampire.

The “vampire” woman with the scythe on her throat. Credit: Mirosław Blicharski / Aleksander

The skeleton of a woman died in the 17th century and buried in the cemetery of the village of Pień, in Polandwas found stuck in the ground with a sickle at the neck it’s a padlock fixed to the left big toe. According to the archaeologists who found her remains, these were “security measures” used to prevent the woman, considered a vampirecould awakening from the world of the dead and terrorize the population with bloodthirsty actions. This is not the first skeleton found with this macabre treatment, the result of superstition he was born in vampire myth that centuries ago made its way into various European countries, especially the Slavs. The fear of these mythological “bloodsucking” creatures with long claws took root so much that there was no shortage of summary executions of people accused of vampirism.

Credit: Mirosław Blicharski / Aleksander

Credit: Mirosław Blicharski / Aleksander

To describe the case of the woman found in Pień was a research team composed of scientists from the Nicolaus Copernicus University (Poland) of the city of Toruń, coordinated by Professor Dariusz Poliński. The researchers were engaged in an archaeological dig in the Polish village cemetery when they came across the unusual remains. The woman, whose age was not indicated, had a silk hat on his head, therefore scholars believe he had a high social status. Nonetheless, she was not spared the “special” treatment adopted for the feared vampires. It cannot be ruled out that she may have been killed on this charge. The scythe at the height of her neck had the task of preventing her from getting up from the ground in case of “awakening”; the padlock on her big toe also served to keep her locked in her burial place. “The scythe was not stretched out but placed on the neck in such a way that if the deceased had tried to get up her head would have been cut or wounded”, he told the Daily Mail Dr. Poliński.

Credit: Mirosław Blicharski / Aleksander

Credit: Mirosław Blicharski / Aleksander

As indicated by the experts, this was only one of the methods of preventing vampire raids. Among others were the cutting of the head and legsplacing the deceased with the face facing the ground, set fire to the spoils and destroy the corpse with stone blows. In other cases, wooden or metal poles were planted in the skull of the deceased. As for the scythe technique, five skeletons undergoing similar treatment were found seven years ago in the village of Drewsko. Among them a man and a woman between the ages of 30 and 45 with a scythe pressed to the throat and a woman between the ages of 50 and 60 with a stone in the throat and a scythe at the height of the hips. The accusation of vampirism, however, may not be the only explanation for these macabre findings; as pointed out by the experts to the Daily Mail, in fact, the symbol of the scythe “protected pregnant women, children and the dead from evil spirits”, therefore it cannot be excluded that it could be benign rituals, and not measures to counter monsters.

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Credit: Credit: Mirosław Blicharski / Aleksander

Credit: Credit: Mirosław Blicharski / Aleksander

It is not yet clear why a person could be accused of being a vampire, but as indicated by the Smithsonian Institution it is likely that at the time foreigners were among the “privileged” targets of superstition and people’s fears. According to scholars, they could also be accused of being vampires victims of cholera; hundreds of years ago, however, it was easier to give credit to witchcraft and the supernatural than to potential scientific explanations.

“Vampire” woman buried with a scythe on her throat to prevent her from awakening: the macabre ritual