What Happened To Good Ol’ Fashioned Stakings? (UPDATE: Hangings?)

This suprise archaeological find is a friendly reminder that although we today laugh at the notion of vampires, once upon a time some cultures considered them a very real and dangerous threat.

‘Vampire’ Graves Uncovered in Poland

Archaeologists in Poland believe they’ve made a startling discovery: a group of vampire graves.

The graves were discovered during the construction of a roadway near the Polish town of Gliwice, where archaeologists are more accustomed to finding the remains of World War II soldiers…

But instead of soldiers, the graves contained skeletons whose heads had been severed and placed on their legs. This indicated to the archaeologists that the bodies had been subject to a ritualized execution designed to ensure the dead stayed dead…

The original article is here:

Polish archaeologists unearth ‘vampire grave’ – Telegraph.

Historians say that the practice was common in the Slavic lands during the decades following the adoption of Christianity by pagan tribes.

No date is given for the remains. Snicker all you want, but there is no arguing with results. These corpses most definitely did not rise from the grave! Our necks are safe…for now.

UPDATE: (18-Jul-2013) Nat Geo site has an update on the finding but check out the comments…

According to a person in the comments who provides a link and says the idea will be published — the heads may be the results of hangings as people were left there until the body separated from the head. This makes sense. It does not necessarily mean they were considered vampires, just criminals.

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  12 comments for “What Happened To Good Ol’ Fashioned Stakings? (UPDATE: Hangings?)

  1. Chris Howard
    July 14, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    Don’t a lot of Slavic people, to this day, dig up their relatives and dismember the corpses for fear that the loved ones are Strigoi?

    Or is that just me being ignorant, and insensitive?

  2. spookyparadigm
    July 14, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    A lot? No. Some? Yes, it does occasionally happen. Or rather, the cases I can think of, the heart was ground up and turned into a tea for a sick family member (presumably under attack from the vampire) to drink.

  3. spookyparadigm
    July 14, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    And I will once again note that while I love these sorts of finds, I do get skeptical of them. I’ve commented about this on some of the links given in the related posts.

  4. Chris Howard
    July 14, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    That’s an interesting point. Just because there was ritualistic dismemberment doesn’t necessarily mean it was because of belief in Strigoi/Vampires.

    The Vikings would completely warp a fallen enemies blade so that that enemy wouldn’t possess a weapon in Valhalla to use on you when you died and met him there.

    It could be that these people were beheaded for a similar purpose, no?

  5. spookyparadigm
    July 14, 2013 at 8:09 PM

    In addition to that problem, there are even cases where intent may have been misidentified. The Italian brick case is an example. And take a look at the comments for how this gets even worse

    http://www.livescience.com/20619-vampire-plague-victim-spurs-debate.html

  6. spookyparadigm
    July 14, 2013 at 8:11 PM
  7. July 15, 2013 at 12:47 AM

    @ Christ Howard. Yes, it is entirely possible these people were beheaded for a similar purpose. It is my understanding that removing the heads from a corpse for various superstitious reasons was not all that unfamiliar a practice in earlier times. Corpses of those that committed suicide, for example, had the head removed and buried apart from the body in some cultures/religions.

  8. July 15, 2013 at 12:51 AM

    Ack! I wanted to end that comment with an asterisk. * Based on my own limited understand of burial practices that I have heard and read about over the years, and not on any particular scholarly research done :)

  9. July 15, 2013 at 7:22 AM

    I juste did a sum-up here for french readers : http://www.vampirisme.com/actualite/des-tombes-de-vampires-exhumees-en-pologne/. Weird to notice the amount of vampire-related discoveries since 2 – 3 years.

  10. July 15, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    Sounds a lot lot J.B. from Griswold, CT.

  11. Chris Howard
    July 16, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    Oh yeah, the Jewett City vampires! That’s a fascinating story!

  12. Eve
    July 19, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    The update is interesting, but it seems to me that we still don’t really have enough information to draw conclusions. This isn’t a case like J.B. where the bodies have obviously been exhumed and disarticulated after burial, nor is there clear evidence of an attempt to pinion the bodies in the grave. As I said on Virtual Skeptics, we may be too quick to assume “vampire” whenever a slightly anomalous burial is discovered. On the other hand, we can’t assume they are either executed criminals or vampires. Bad or troublesome people were considered more likely to walk after death, as were people who died violently. So, while it may be likely that the heads came off during execution, it’s possible that they were tossed between the legs as a precaution against postmortem perambulation.

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