Polish archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a woman thought to be a vampire. The grave for the female ‘vampire’ dates back to the 17th century, when fears about people returning from the dead were still prevalent. To keep this from happening, the sharp blade of a sickle was placed across her neck. It would cut off her head if she rose from the grave. The researchers also found a padlock on one of her big toes. It’s not one of Buffy’s vampire slaying tricks, but other graves unearthed in Eastern Europe have similar anti-vampire burial methods.
The find, which we saw on Science Alert, was uncovered near what is now the city of Pień in Poland. Professor Dariusz Poliński from the Nicolaus Copernicus University leads the research. Polish archaeologists have seen the burial practice before. As well as other anti-vampire practices like removing the head or spiking it into the ground.
The team says a silk cap found on the woman’s skull suggests she was of high status. But this leaves plenty of unanswered questions. Did people think she was a vampire because her front tooth was out of place? As someone who needed braces to get my canines in place, I’m glad I was born in the 20th century. How did she die? Did anyone consider that she could rise from the dead slowly enough not to have her head cut off by the sickle?
Though we may now think of vampires only as fodder for teenage paranormal romances, vampire movies have nearly as long of a history as filmmaking itself. And don’t forget that some people in the 1900s still had vampire hunting kits, and not as a novelty item.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.