CAIRO – 4 September 2022: Archaeologists in Poland have found the remains of a female "vampire" pinned to the ground with a scythe through her throat to prevent her from returning from death, during archaeological work in a 17th century cemetery in a Polish village.
The head of the team, Professor Darius Polinsky of Nicolaus Copernicus University in the nearby city of Torun, said that the form of burial is unusual.
He explained, according to the British Daily Mail, that among the ways to prevent the return of the dead was cutting off the head or legs, dropping the face of the dead on the ground, burning it, and hitting it with a stone.
Polinsky explained that the scythe was not laid flat but rather was placed on the neck in such a way that the head of the deceased would be severed or injured in case the deceased tried to get up. He added that the big toe locked on the left foot of the skeleton likely symbolizes the "impossibility of return."
Legends of the living dead go back to 11th-century Europe. People feared that some of those buried would make their way back to the surface on Easter day as blood-sucking monsters, terrifying the living.
In some parts of the continent - especially among the Slavs - belief in vampire myths became so widespread that it caused mass hysteria and even led to the executions of people believed to be vampires.
People who died untimely - such as by suicide - were often suspected of being vampires, and their bodies were mutilated to prevent them from rising from the dead.
In 2015, archaeologists in the village of Driusko, 130 miles away, found five skeletons similarly buried in a 400-year-old cemetery.
A scythe was found pressed against the throat of an adult man, aged 35-44, and an adult woman, aged 35-39.
Researchers who made the discovery said that when they were placed in burials a scythe was a guarantee that the deceased would remain in their graves and therefore could not harm the living, but they may have also served to protect the dead from evil forces.
According to folk wisdom, the sickle protects women in labor, children and the dead from evil spirits. It also had a role in rituals designed to counter witchcraft and black magic.