Medieval vampire graves

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Medieval vampire graves

Postby Ty N. » 14 Jul 2013 22:51

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... grave.html

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Skeletons were found with their heads removed and placed on their legs indicating they had been subjected to an execution ritual designed to ensure the dead stayed dead.

Anybody accused of being a vampire in the distant past faced a grim fate.

Sometimes they would be decapitated, while another punishment involved hanging from a gibbet until decomposition resulted in the head separating from the body. In both cases the head was then laid on the legs of the victim in the hope that an inability to locate their head would hinder the progress of those intent on rising from the grave.

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

The remains were found on the construction site of a ring road near the town of Gliwice, Poland, and came as a surprise to archaeologists more accustomed to finding the human detritus of the bloody fighting of the Second World War.

Just when the bodies were buried is open to speculation. Doctor Jacek Pierzak, one of the archaeologists on the site, said the skeletons were found with no jewellery, belt buckles, buttons or anything that could aid the task of determining their age.

Unlike the classic Bram Stoker image of a caped, blood-sucking aristocrat, the definition of a vampire in the Middle Ages was far broader. Even people who abided by old pagan customs and left food on the graves of dead relatives could fall foul of accusations of vampirism, and suffer a prompt execution.
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Re: Medieval vampire graves

Postby Dave Long » 15 Jul 2013 07:01

cf Paul Barber, "Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality", Yale University Press, 1988

Decapitation, pre-decomposition, and stakes through the heart are all ways to avoid a buildup of methane and other decomposition gases that results in a buoyant corpse.
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Postby Ty N. » 15 Jul 2013 09:03

Decapitation was also a common method of execution for centuries, so it's possible the graves contained the remains of individuals who had been dispatched unceremoniously.
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Re:

Postby MEversbergII » 15 Jul 2013 16:42

Ty N. wrote:Decapitation was also a common method of execution for centuries, so it's possible the graves contained the remains of individuals who had been dispatched unceremoniously.


A bad day at the lumber mill.

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With poison in my wine-cup, and daggers at my back.

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Re: Medieval vampire graves

Postby swordflasher » 20 Jul 2013 22:45

Dave Long wrote:cf Paul Barber, "Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality", Yale University Press, 1988

Decapitation, pre-decomposition, and stakes through the heart are all ways to avoid a buildup of methane and other decomposition gases that results in a buoyant corpse.


Buoyant corpses being a problem because.. ?

Perhaps they cut their heads off so they could use shorter coffins. Or perhaps it stopped them turning into revenants.
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Re: Medieval vampire graves

Postby Dave Long » 21 Jul 2013 18:14

swordflasher wrote:Buoyant corpses being a problem because.. ?

... because corpses that don't stay buried can easily be labelled as revenants. If one is in need of a convenient scapegoat, nearly any poorly buried corpse can be demonstrated to be a vampire: face down? blood pooled around the mouth: obviously a well-fed vampire. face up? blood drained to bottom of body, face pale: obviously a hungry vampire. corpse pops up out of riverside swampy ground (cf New Orleans cemeteries)? everyone knows evil can't cross running water (cf Cutty Sark): obviously a careless vampire. Does the corpse stay down after opening the thoracic cavity (using one of the techniques above) and reburial? obviously a correctly dispatched vampire. etc. etc.

Barber did some of his field work with police forensic units, which allows him to consider the relative merits of cement overshoes and traditional anti-vampire techniques. Bonus speculation: barrow grave robbers might have awakened fewer dragons had they had LED flashlights instead of torches ...
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Re: Medieval vampire graves

Postby Gil-Galadh » 26 Jul 2013 21:26

Cool.

Near my homecity we have a vampite graveyard, with hundreds of 'vampires' dating centuries back(I think archaeologists have found burials form at least 14th century). Mostly these include foreigners that have died around here. As well as anyone else that might be suspected, is jewish or armenian...

My home city you ask? Oh just a nice place on the Black Sea, called Varna. I hear a dude named Dracula visited here sometime ago....

Fun stories aside, according to some friends archaeologists as much as 50% of the corpses in medieval graveyards in the slavic countries are treated against rising from the grave. Seems like the undead were quite the problem here.
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Re: Medieval vampire graves

Postby MEversbergII » 29 Jul 2013 20:21

I can imagine that, even in the period in question, there was some skepticism. Desire to test it, however...

M.
When I was a fighting-man, the kettle-drums they beat,
The people scattered gold-dust before my horses feet;
But now I am a great king, the people hound my track
With poison in my wine-cup, and daggers at my back.

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Re: Medieval vampire graves

Postby Gil-Galadh » 01 Aug 2013 09:42

Of course. ANd it came from the most unexpected places - the church for example dismissed a lot of 'magic', especially weather magic and superstitions as charlatanry and ... superstitions.
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Re: Medieval vampire graves

Postby MEversbergII » 01 Aug 2013 17:19

Yeah, and replaced it with their own.

M.
When I was a fighting-man, the kettle-drums they beat,
The people scattered gold-dust before my horses feet;
But now I am a great king, the people hound my track
With poison in my wine-cup, and daggers at my back.

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Re: Medieval vampire graves

Postby George S. » 26 Aug 2013 13:14

Very interesting facts about vampirism,and perception of vampirism amongst educated nobility in Kingdom of Serbia,could be found in Code book,or Book of laws,established by Serbian King Stephen Uroš IV Dušan of Serbia in 1349,(later Emperor)
One article from his Law book strictly prohibits any vampire hunters activity and excavation of bodies of deceased suspected of vampire activity.Also prohibits participation of priests and Church clergy in such vampire hunt parties.
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Re: Medieval vampire graves

Postby swordflasher » 08 Sep 2013 22:50

George S. wrote:Very interesting facts about vampirism,and perception of vampirism amongst educated nobility in Kingdom of Serbia,could be found in Code book,or Book of laws,established by Serbian King Stephen Uroš IV Dušan of Serbia in 1349,(later Emperor)
One article from his Law book strictly prohibits any vampire hunters activity and excavation of bodies of deceased suspected of vampire activity.Also prohibits participation of priests and Church clergy in such vampire hunt parties.


Perhaps he was a vampire; they were often nobles, of course.
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Re: Medieval vampire graves

Postby George S. » 08 Sep 2013 23:38

swordflasher wrote:
Perhaps he was a vampire; they were often nobles, of course.


Oh,no!King could never be a vampire,it was always a lesser nobility,except Vlad IV,he was Voivoda of Valachia,title equivalent to Dux or Prince.

I prefer to think that it was a very powerful vampire lobby on Serbian royal court that made some influence on law advisors so that King Stephan Dušan IV could submit law article that in fact protect vampires against angry peasants and all mighty church :D
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Re: Medieval vampire graves

Postby swordflasher » 09 Sep 2013 22:38

Could be...
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