Centuries Ago, They Buried Her With a Sickle and Padlock

17th-century locals in Poland apparently thought the woman was a vampire
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2022 8:16 AM CDT
At Old Polish Grave, Female 'Vampire' Unearthed
The woman was buried with a sickle above her neck, apparently to keep her from rising from the grave.   (Lukasz Czyzewski, Nicolaus Copernicus University)

Archaeologists who discovered a 17th-century grave in Poland found three telltale clues about the buried woman: She had protruding front teeth, a padlock around her big toe, and a sickle placed strategically over her throat. Conclusion: People thought she was a vampire and buried her with the lock and sickle to prevent her from rising from the grave, reports CBS News. As in, that sickle (a sharp farming tool) would have cut her throat had she tried to get up. The unnamed woman also had a silk scarf around her head, suggesting she hailed from high society. But something—maybe the large teeth—made her stand out and perhaps be feared as a supernatural entity, notes the Washington Post.

“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,” Dariusz Polinski of Poland's Nicolaus Copernicus University tells the Post, adding that the detail of the sickle is a rare one. Polinski's team found the corpse in the southern village of Pien. In that age, fears of the supernatural in general, and of witches and vampires in particular, were common, explains Ars Technica. Its post runs through other burial strategies employed by superstitious locals throughout the world who wanted to make sure the deceased stayed in the grave. (More vampires stories.)

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