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The Source:

A. Götze :
"Monolithgräber"
in: "Zeitschrift für Ethnologie", Asher & Co., Berlin, Germany, 1904

The Case

I first found mention of this case in Karl Brunner's "Ostdeutsche Volkskunde" [1925], who tells us the following:

"Auf Vampyrismus, d.h. Wiederkehr der Toten, um weitere Opfern an Leben zu fordern, und seine Bekämpfung, deuten schon neolithische Funde von Pinnow, Kreis Angermünde, hin, wo große Steine auf die Leiche gewälzt waren um die Rückkehr ins Reich der Lebenden zu verwehren."

In other words:

Signs of the belief in vampirism and the battle against it could be seen in neolithical finds in Pinnow, in the Angermünde district, where large stones had been rolled on top of the corpse to prevent its return among the living.

I wanted to know more about this case. Fortunately Karl Brunner gives us directions to his source. So I dug out the relevant copy of the "Zeitschrift für Ethnologie". Here I found the text of the original presentation by Professor Götze, complete with some sketches of his find. He found the first grave in 1897. And found two more similar graves in 1902. They are notably different from the other graves on this site in Pinnow.

If I look at the drawings, they must have been rather large stones indeed. As Götze has it: "Von einem Schutz für die Leiche, von einer liebevollen Bergung, wie sie sich in der Beisetzung beispielsweise in den Steinkisten zeigt, ist hier keine Rede, der Vorgang verrät vielmehr eine gewisse Brutalität." In other words, the stones were not meant to protect the corpse and there were no signs of love for the deceased. He suggests that the stone was rather meant to protect the living from vampirism. And, as he puts it: "Dieselbe Idee des Vampyrismus liegt nun möglicherweise auch den in den Pinnower Gräbern erscheinenden Brauch zu Gründe, einen grossen Steinblock auf die Leiche zu wälzen."

The Date:

The first excavation by Götze took place in 1897. The second one in 1902. He calls his finds neolithical graves but sadly makes no further attempt to put a more exact date on them. The Neolithicum is a rather long period that seems to have begun some 11000 years B.C. and has ended some 3000 - some have it 2000 - years B.C.

The Place:

Pinnow can be found NorthEast of Berlin near the Polish border.

Possible Follow-Up:

Read Brunner's book or go straight to Professor Götze's article in the "Zeitschrift für Ethnologie". See if more has been published about this, by Götze or others. The dating of the graves leaves much to be desired. Objects were found inside the graves, like flint knives and pottery. It might be worth finding out where they have gone to. And if they have been examined more recently. Carbon dating might give us a more precise date for these cases...

© 2012 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed July 2012

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