How ‘vampires’ in Poland were buried in the 16th century

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Archaeologists have unearthed what they believe to be a vampire burial ground on a building site in Poland.
The team of historians discovered graves containing four skeletons with their heads removed and placed between their legs near the southern town of Gliwice. Decapitating a suspected vampire was common practice in medieval times because it was thought to be the only way to ensure the dead stay dead. The exact fate of the skeletons is yet unclear, but the archaeologists noted that, apart from being headless, there was no trace of any earthly possessions, such as jewellery, belts or buckles.
‘It’s very difficult to tell when these burials were carried out,’ archaeologist Dr Jacek Pierzak told the Dziennik Zachodni newspaper. The remains have been sent for further testing but initial estimations suggest they died sometime around the 16th century.
It comes a year after archaeologists in Bulgaria claimed to have discovered two ‘vampire’ corpses in excavations near a monastery in the Black Sea town of Sozopol, both more than 800 years old and pierced through the chest with heavy iron rods. Bulgaria’s national museum chief Bozidhar Dimitrov said as many as 100 such ‘vampire corpses’ have been found in the country in recent years.
‘They illustrate a practice which was common in some Bulgarian villages up until the first decade of the 20th century,’ he explained. Even today, the vampire remains a very real threat in the minds of villagers in some of the most remote communities of Eastern Europe, where garlic and crucifixes are readily wielded, and where bodies are exhumed so that a stake can be driven through their heart. The notion of blood-sucking vampires preying on the flesh of the living goes back thousands of years and was common in many ancient cultures, where tales of these reviled creatures of the dead abounded.
Archaeologists recently found 3,000 Czech graves, for example, where bodies had been weighed down with rocks to prevent the dead emerging from their tombs. The advent of Christianity only fuelled the vampire legends, for they were considered the antithesis of Christ — spirits that rose from the dead bodies of evil people. Such vampires would stalk the streets in search of others to join their unholy pastime of sucking the lifeblood from humans and animals to survive.