A female ‘vampire’ buried in a 17th-century Polish graveyard has been unearthed by researchers, with a sickle placed carefully across her neck to stop her rising from the dead.
The remains were found by a team led by Professor Dariusz Poliński, from Nicolaus Copernicus University.
The skeleton was wearing a silk cap and had a protruding tooth.
Professor Poliński said: "The sickle was not laid flat but placed on the neck in such a way that if the deceased had tried to get up the head would have been cut off or injured.”
Burial practices such as this became used in Poland after fears over vampires returning from the grave, the Daily Mail reported.
Poliński said: "Other ways to protect against the return of the dead include cutting off the head or legs, placing the deceased face down to bite into the ground, burning them, and smashing them with a stone.”
The practice of burying people with ritual elements to prevent people returning from the grave dates back to Roman times if not earlier.
In 2018, researchers unearthed something truly grisly in a Roman site known as the Cemetery of the Babies – a child buried with a rock inside its mouth.
The researchers believe it may have been put there as part of a ritual to stop the 10-year-old rising from the grave, at least 1,500 years ago.
David Soren, of the University of Arizona, said: "Locally, they're calling it the 'Vampire of Lugnano. I've never seen anything like it. It's extremely eerie and weird."
In 2019, US researchers dug up a ‘vampire’ dating to the 19th century.
The man had been dug up and reburied with his head and limbs placed on top of his ribcage - a sign that people suspected him of being undead.
But the reality was that the remains in Connecticut are probably those of a poor farmer who died of tuberculosis, Live Science reported.
The remains, known as JB-55, were found in 1994, but were newly analysed this year, according to a report by the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The researchers wrote: "Upon opening the grave, the skull and femora were found in a 'skull and crossbones' orientation on top of the ribs and vertebrae, which were also found in disarray."
"On the coffin lid, an arrangement of tacks spelled the initials 'JB-55', presumably the initials and age at death of this individual."
"We believe that he was rearranged in the grave because he was believed to be undead."
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