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Governing from the Grave: Vampire Burials and Social Order in Post-medieval Poland

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 November 2014

Tracy K. Betsinger
Department of Anthropology, SUNY College at Oneonta, 108 Ravine Parkway, Denison 18, Oneonta, NY 13820, USA Email:
Amy B. Scott
Department of Anthropology, University of Manitoba, 432 Fletcher Argue Building, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2, Canada Email:
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Mortuary treatments are ways in which archaeologists can learn about the culture and lifestyle of past societies, in terms of how they view the dead. The dead, however, can continue to play a role in the lives of the living, which may also be reflected in funerary rites and burial treatments. This article explores the social agency of the dead, focusing on the ‘vampire burials’ of the post-medieval Polish site of Drawsko 1. These burials, identified through their grave goods, provide a unique opportunity to learn how vampire folklore and the deceased ‘vampires’ influenced the living, most notably as ways to encourage social order, as an explanation for the unknown, and as an economic commitment.

Special Section: The Bioarchaeology of Postmortem Agency
Copyright © The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research 2014