A study published by Lesley Gregoricka from University of South Alabama and colleagues, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE states that potential 'vampires' buried in north-western Poland with sickles and rocks across their bodies were likely local and not immigrants to the region.
In northwestern Poland, apotropaic funerary rites--a traditional practice intended to prevent evil--occurred throughout the 17th-18th c. AD. Those of the dead considered at risk for becoming vampires for a variety of reasons were given specific treatment and investigating these burial practices may provide insight into community cultural and social practices, as well as the social identities of people living in the area at the time. Excavations at a cemetery in northwestern Poland have revealed six unusual graves, with sickles across the bodies or large rocks under the chins of select individuals, amidst hundreds of normal burials. To better understand whether the bodies selected for apotropaic burial rites were local or non-local immigrants, the authors of this study tested permanent molars from 60 individuals, including 6 "special" or deviant burials, using radiogenic strontium isotope ratios from archaeological dental enamel. They then compared the results to strontium isotopes of local animals.
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