Archaeologists have found the skeletal remains of a 17th-century woman buried with a sickle around her neck and one toe padlocked to prevent her from "rising from the dead."
Discovered in the village of Pień near Dąbrowa by scientists from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, the grisly find has been described as the first of its kind in Poland.
Researcher Magdalena Zagrodzka said: "The uniqueness of this discovery results from the surprising combination of three elements: the sickle and the padlock, both with a symbolic meaning derived from popular beliefs, and the presence of possible headdresses made of thread-embroidered silk. of silver or gold. This last element is evidence of the high social status of the buried woman.”
She added that a sickle placed with its blade around the neck and a triangular lock on the big toe of the left foot, symbolizing the end of a certain stage of life, could protect against the return of the deceased, who probably buried her. feared In this context, these practices can be considered anti-vampire.
According to Zagrodzka, the woman's body was arranged very carefully, with her head on the pillow. Near her skull were remains of what might be a worn cap under her chin. The well-preserved teeth could indicate that she was a young person.
During the anthropological analysis, Dr. Alicja Drozd-Lipińska will check whether the remains of the deceased show traces of disease. Researchers from the Institute of Archeology of the Nicolaus Copernicus University, where the research material has been transported, will try to solve other mysteries related to the discovered burial. They will check, for example, if something has been placed in the mouth of the deceased. Other detailed analysis (including DNA) and possibly reconstruction of the deceased person's face will be done.
This is not the first significant discovery related to the research site. During work carried out between 2005 and 2009, the researchers discovered the remains of two cemeteries: an early medieval one with richly equipped chamber tombs (10th/11th century) and a 17th-century Protestant necropolis.
Zagrodzka said: “Our discoveries included an unusual grave of a man whose lower leg was a child in the shape of a cross. We also found the burial of a child with a similar triangular padlock, like the one found this year.”
More research work is now planned at the cemetery. Zagrodzka said: “The head of the Dąbrowa Chełmińska commune promised his support, as the commune plans to exclude the site area from the agricultural operation.
"There is also talk of using this area in the context of promoting knowledge about medieval and modern burial practices."
The discovery was made on August 30 by a research team under the scientific supervision of Nicolaus Copernicus University Professor Dr. Dariusz Poliński. The members of the expedition included anthropologist Dr. Alicja Drozd-Lipińska and Dr. Łukasz Czyżewski, who was responsible for measurements, documentation and photogrammetry.
The project combined scientific research with rescue (protection of the discovered cemetery) and science promotion activities. Its participants were employees of the Institute of Archeology of the Nicolaus Copernicus University, volunteers and villagers.