Medieval beliefs about vampires and archaeological finds

November 15, 2011 9:17

The remains of the alleged vampire

The remains of the alleged vampire

In early 2011, the "Ufolente" published an article about an unusual archaeological finds made on the Venetian island of Lazaretto Nuovo. These were the remains of a woman from the XVI century, in whose mouth was placed brick, which was one of the measures to neutralize the suspect in vampirism deceased. This fall, it became known on similar findings from Ireland, dating from an earlier time — VIII century AD.

In 2002 started Kilteshinsky archaeological project on the study of medieval churches in the county of Roscommon Connacht and fell deeply in 2005-2009 to major excavations in Ireland over the last decade it has funded the Royal Irish Academy. Excavations conducted by a team of archaeologists led by Chris Reed Institute of Technology Sligo and Finanom Thomas of the University of St. Louis. The object of the study was a medieval church complex in Kilteshine (near Lough Key), which included a small castle, a manor house, the twelfth century church and cemetery. Life here has stopped in the middle of XIV century, which have been linked to the epidemic of plague ("Black Death"), hire at this time in Europe, including Ireland.

As it turned out, the bishop's residence was prostroena on the site of an ancient burial ground, burial which took place from the VIII century. During excavations uncovered the remains of 137, while the archaeologists estimate landfill three thousand bodies were buried during the 700-1400 period. Unique findings here were two skeletons, one of which belonged to a man aged 40-60 years, the second — a young man about 20 years old. Both in the mouth were intentionally placed large boulders the size of a baseball. A similar procedure was known in medieval times as one of the measures of "neutralization" of vampires. However, scientists have linked the emergence and spread of beliefs about vampires with plague epidemics XIV-XVIII centuries, while the remains found date from the VIII century.
It is assumed that the appearance of such a character as a "vampire" in European folklore was not previously XVI century. But it's worth noting that the mythological characters from the "vampiric tendencies" are known from ancient times — in different nations under different names. Earlier predecessor Vampire in Europe has been known, for example, under the name of «revenant» — a ghost, a ghost, a dead man who returns from the dead to terrorize the living. According to written sources, such "restless dead" are known from earlier times. Similar stories can be found in the chronicle of William of Newburgh, "History of England" (a record of the events in 1196), in the history of the English abbot of Burton in 1090 of two peasants, who were after his burial, and was the cause of mass plague. Plots with "alive dead" found in the "family sagas" that describe the history of individual births in the period from 930 to 1030 years (see: "The Saga of the Greenlanders," "The Saga of the flow of people," "The Saga of people with Sandy Beach , "" The Saga of the people of the Valley salmon, "" The Saga of Grettir, "" The Saga of the Battle of the Wasteland ").

Thus, we can speak of a traditional European vampire earlier predecessors in XI-XII centuries, however, without a common name, but with similar functional features. Archaeological finds in Kilteshine allow much to push the time frame of existence of such beliefs in Europe.

By: Victor Haiduchyk

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