Archaeologists have discovered the intriguing remains of a child from the 17th century, buried with a padlock attached to the foot, in what scientists believe to be evidence of medieval fears of “vampires” rising from the dead, according to reports.
Scientists, including Dariusz Poliński from Nicolaus Copernicus University, conducted exploratory excavations in an early medieval “necropolis” cemetery near Dąbrowa Chełmińska in Poland in search of unique burials.
Last year, they made a significant find with the burial of a young medieval woman, whose body was double protected against rising from the grave with a triangular padlock on her left big toe and a downward-facing sickle blade placed around her neck.
Continuing their search for similar burials in the area, the archaeologists have now unearthed the strange and unprecedented burial of a 5-7 year old child from the 17th century.
The child’s remains were buried with the face turned downward, suggesting a fear of the deceased and their “activities” even after death.
Such burials, with faces pointing downwards, were likely practiced in the region during medieval times to ensure the deceased did not pose a threat by “biting into the ground,” explained scientists in a statement.
Beneath the child’s bones, archaeologists also found a triangular padlock similar to the one accompanying the remains of the medieval woman discovered last year at the same site.
An analysis indicates that the child’s grave was likely violated, with a part of the corpse missing, but it remains unknown when and why this occurred or what happened to the missing remains.
In close proximity to the child’s grave, researchers also uncovered a “perplexing cluster” of several children’s skeletons, with a green-colored fragment of a jawbone in one of them.
A similar greenish tint was observed on the palate of the woman discovered last year, leading scientists to suspect the presence of a copper alloy object in her mouth.
During their field research, they also encountered a non-standard burial of a pregnant woman with the preserved remains of her fetus.
Scientists are hopeful that DNA tests of the remains conducted through further lab studies will provide insights into the woman’s eye color, skin tone, hair characteristics, and possible genetic diseases.
Given the abundance of atypical graves displaying signs of peculiar medieval practices at the site, scientists strongly believe that the people of that time harbored fears towards at least some of the deceased.
They suggest that the region may have housed a cemetery, possibly Protestant, intended for individuals who were marginalized from the wider community.