jueves, 27 de noviembre de 2014

Examination of Polish deviant burials show they were non-immigrant (Poland)

Practices intended to prevent evil were not uncommon in post-medieval Poland, and included specific treatment of the dead for those considered at risk of becoming vampires. Excavations at the Drawsko 1 cemetery, which dates from 17th–18th centuries AD, have revealed multiple examples of such deviant burials.
Apotropaic rites involving vampires have been reported across eastern Europe during both the medieval and post-medieval periods. However, while reports of such deviant burials have dominated newspaper headlines, detailed scientific research into the subject is rarely carried out.

Social identity

While historic records describe the many potential reasons why individuals were considered more susceptible to vampirism than others, no study has attempted to discern differences in social identity between standard and deviant burials using biogeochemical analyses of human skeletal remains. The hypothesis that the individuals selected for apotropaic burial rites were immigrants or of local origin was tested using radiogenic strontium isotope ratios from archaeological dental enamel.
Lesley Gregoricka from University of South Alabama and colleagues, tested permanent molars from 60 individuals, including 6 deviant burials. They then compared the results to strontium isotopes of local animals. The findings are published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.


The most common types of deviant burials include decapitation, iron stakes driven through the body, and stones placed directly on top of the body, all of which were meant to prevent the suspect from leaving the tomb and preying upon the living.
Historic records describe characteristics that makes a person more susceptible – such as not being baptised and suspected witchcraft practitioner  – and represent aspects of social identity and judgement difficult to reconstruct today using only human remains. However, other facets of identity are embedded into the skeleton itself, including the incorporation of stable isotopes into human bone and enamel during life, which can reveal whether a person is from the locality or is an immigrant. These biological markers can help explain social definitions of the ‘outsider’ and determine whether individuals targeted for apotropaic rites were in fact non-locals.

Local people

Those selected for deviant burial at Drawsko had sickles lain across the neck or abdomen or stones placed beneath the mandible. After carrying out testing on their tooth enamel, these individuals were found to have lived in the area since early childhood. The researchers conclude from this that these people must have been distrusted in some other way.
Evidence of widespread cholera epidemics throughout the region during the post-medieval period may offer an alternate explanation, as the first person to die from an infectious disease outbreak was presumed more likely to return from the dead as a vampire. However, because cholera kills quickly and does not leave behind visible markers on the skeleton, it is unclear if this is the case at

Source: Past Horizons: http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/11/2014/domestic-cereals-in-evidence-7000-years-ago-in-sudan

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