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Buried with sickles: early modern interments from Drawsko, Poland

  • Marek Polcyn (a1) and Elżbieta Gajda (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 07 December 2015

In Central Europe, medieval and early modern burials sometimes contain iron sickles placed on the body or in direct contact with the deceased. Previous interpretations have considered them as markers of social status or occupation, or as magical and apotropaic. Detailed analysis of sickle burials from a cemetery at Drawsko in Poland leads to a discussion of demonology beliefs, dual faith and a resurgence in paganism following the Counter-Reformation. The results illustrate how the sickle might have served as an indicator of social identity, the nature of the individual's death and the way the deceased was perceived within their community.

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L. Gardeła & K. Kajkowski. 2013. Vampires, criminals or slaves? Reinterpreting ‘deviant burials’ in early medieval Poland. World Archaeology 45: 314–32.

L.A. Gregoricka , T.K. Betsinger, A.B. Scott & M. Polcyn. 2014. Apotropaic practices and the undead: a biogeochemical assessment of deviant burials in post-medieval Poland. PLoS ONE 9 (11): e113564.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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