Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gliwice burials: Vampires or Executed Criminals?

A bit of a media event has been the discovery of some odd burials near Gliwice, at least 17 skeletons buried with the skulls severed and placed between the knees or hands. Unfortunately the local archaeologists seem to have jumped on the 'vampire' bandwaggon:
Construction workers building a road near the town of Gliwice in southern Poland this month came across four skeletons buried in a bizarre way. Their skulls had been cut off and placed between the knees or hands of the dead. Later, a further 13 skeletons arranged in a similar way were found. Adding to the mystery, nothing -- no jewellery, remains of clothing or coins, not even a button -- was found on the bodies. Archaeologists now believe that the bodies date from the 15th or 16th centuries, when the fear of vampires was widespread in Eastern Europe. Lukasz Obtulowicz, an archaeologist from the monument protection office in the nearby city of Katowice, said there were clear indications that this was the site of a vampire burial, noting that stones had been placed on the skulls. "All this served to prevent the vampires from returning to life," he said in a television interview.  The office's chief archeologist, Jacek Pierzak, told Polish newspaper Dziennik Zachodni: "It was one of the most common forms of burying vampires." The office could not immediately be reached for comment. It can't be ruled out that the dead were executed, because the site lies close to where a gallows used to stand. So far, a total of 43 graves have been unearthed there, and historians hope to learn more about the skeletons by studying court files and church logs on executions. The skeletons are being removed for tests to ascertain their age and the possible causes of death.

One of the burials

Spiegel, 'Roll Over Dracula: 'Vampire Cemetery' Found in Poland', ABC News/SPIEGEL July 27, 2013

Sarah Weiss, '4 suspected vampires found buried in Poland' Jewsish News 12.07.2013

Afterlife of Early Neolithic houses in the Polish lowlands


Reconstruction of Neolithic house in use

Joanna Pyzel, 'Afterlife of Early Neolithic houses in the Polish lowlands',  Past Horizons. March 23, 2013.Some interesting conclusions about some LBK houses found in motorway excavations in Kuyavia:

 Some people may have chosen to build within the older LBK houses to [...]  legitimise their ancient origin (and privileges that must be associated with this). There can be no doubt that the past, even a remote one, played an important role in the Brześć Kujawski societies. Leaving aside the question of this relationship to LBK ancestors representing a genuine continuity or an invented tradition, these commemoration practices demonstrate to us how long these abandoned buildings of first farmers could have been visible in the otherwise unchanged landscape of prehistoric Europe and what this must have meant to those that came after.