16th Century Vampire Graves In Poland?
A gruesome discovery was found in the southern Poland town of Gliwice. Four decapitated skeletons were unearthed from a mandatory preconstruction dig and they found with the skulls resting between their legs. This type of slaying and burial was a common fate for a person believed to be a vampire.
In Slavic communities, suspected vampires were decapitated and buried with their heads between legs to prevent the skeletons from rising from the grave. The last record of a vampire burial occurred in 1914 in the village of Stare Mierzwice, Masovia.
Dr. Jacek Pierzak, an archaeologist told the Dziennik Zachodni newspaper, “it’s very difficult to tell when these burials were carried out.” Estimates figured the bodies were buried around the sixteenth century.
Pierzak also noted that the skeletons had no jewelry, belt buckles or buttons, which could closer determine when they were buried.
Poland is a dedicated Roman Catholic country, and has many communities of exorcists and vampire-believers. An exorcism conference in 2011 lasted for a week and focused on examining, “The current fashion for vampirism in Europe and the world-over, schizophrenia and other mental disorders as well as the devil’s deceit during exorcism,” according to Agence France-Presse.
In 2012, near the city of Sozopol, Bulgaria, archaeologist uncovered two 700-year-old remains with iron rods stuck in the chest cavity where the heart would be. This was a Bulgarian ritual performed on suspected vampires in the fourteenth century. Recently, almost 100 vampire graves have been discovered in this eastern European country.
In Slavic legend, spirits of the deceased could appear at will, taking the form of an animal or a human. Some of these spirits could become malicious, such as sucking the blood from humans or livestock. The belief was the spirit would part from the body and wander around its neighborhood for 40 days before entering the eternal afterlife.
During this time, it was also believed the spirit could reenter a corpse. With these Slavic beliefs concerning death, the concept of the vampire began. The vampire, according to Slavic legend, is an unclean spirit possessing a decomposing body and it needs the blood of the living to maintain its existence. It was also considered to be jealous and vengeful toward the living.
The death of an unbaptized child, an untimely or violent death, or death by murder are all reasons for the soul to be unclean. Furthermore, a body given an improper burial was also unclean and could be possessed by another unclean soul.
Different cultures depict the vampire in slightly different ways, but all have the same characteristics. In movies, direct sunlight, a stake through the heart, or a silver bullet shot through the heart can kill a vampire.
Image Credit: Thinkstock.com