Vampire Graves Discovered In Poland
A group of construction workers in Gliwice, Poland recently uncovered the graves of 17 decapitated skeletons, which some now believe were vampires.
The spot where the crew was digging had once been a gallows, so the discovery of dead bodies was unsurprising. However, what led archaeologists to cry “vampire” was the way in which the headless corpses were buried.
In all 17 instances, the skull was placed between the skeleton’s knees and a stone was placed on top of the skull, a method Europeans once used to guarantee that the vampire couldn’t rise from his grave.
Whether sparkly or sexy, vampires have captured the imagination of 21st century Americans. But ours isn’t the first generation of humans to be captivated by thoughts of the undead. Back in the Middle Ages, most of Eastern Europe not only believed in the existence of vampires but lived in mortal fear of their bite…
The 15th and 16th centuries weren’t a great time for most Eastern Europeans. Serfdom was on the rise, meaning the rich got richer and the poor became agricultural slaves. The bubonic plague swept through the countryside about once a generation. And to top it off, the Ottoman Turks kept trying to expand their empire westward by besieging towns and torching villages. Understandably, most people were illiterate peasants and superstition guided the decision-making process.
Mixed into this general atmosphere of fear and death were two historical figures whose bloody exploits seem vampirical even today: Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia and Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed. Vlad the Impaler, or Vlad Dracula, killed tens of thousands of Ottoman soldiers, often with excessive cruelty. Ghoulish woodcuts show him impaling his victims on sticks and then feasting amidst their bloody corpses. Countess Elizabeth, also known as the Blood Countess, purportedly tortured and killed over 650 girls, after which she bathed in their blood to keep her youth and beauty.
In this environment, vampires seemed a very real thing. A group of peasants in southern Poland were so confident that their town was being attacked by vampires that archaeologists believe that they executed at least 17 suspected vampires.
But at this point, all archaeologists really know is that the skeletons date from the 15th and 16th centuries and that their internment is consistent with contemporary anti-vampire texts. Some of the skeletons have been removed from the burial ground for further testing to discover their exact age and whether or not they were beheaded before or after death.
As it is unknown whether or not vampire skeletons differ from human skeletons, we may never know whether those medieval Polish peasants were noble heroes who stopped the spread of vampirism before the entire human race succumbed to the scourge or whether they were a bunch of fear-crazed, axe-wielding hooligans who killed their neighbors because of rank superstition.
All that we do know is that there are 17 corpses in Poland that did not rise from the dead.
Image: Bin im Garten
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