The Vampires of Drawsko

The settlement of Drawsko is situated in west-central Poland. The village was established and utilized before the Middle Ages through the modern era. The 17th-18Th century cemetery was initially excavated in 1929, with follow-up excavations conducted in 2002 and 2003. Beginning in 2008, systematic excavation of the cemetery was carried out as part of anarchaeological field school, which continues today. To date, 154 human skeletal remains have been recovered, four of which have been designated “vampire burials”. -Dr. Tracy Betsinger (SUCO) and Amy B. Scott.
Skeletal photos courtesy of Amy B. Scott.

Female 60+ years of age at the time of death displayed severe ante mortem tooth loss.  Copper staining was found inside her mouth but no artifact was recovered and a large rock had been placed on her throat at the time of burial. Cranial measurements fall within the parameters of the Drawsko group.

Adolescent female age approximately 16-19 yrs old at the time of death. A headband was recovered still in situ over the crown of the cranium with an intact braid found underneath (inset). The headband was stained green, characteristic of copper, suggesting it may have had a metal piece attached to it at some time which caused the distinct staining. An iron sickle had been placed around her neck at the time of burial. Cranial measurements fell outside of the parameters of the Drawsko group, and therefore this individual may have originated from outside this region of Europe. Her bone structure is rather distinct from the other females recovered at the Drawsko site.

For more information about the Drawsko site, photos, history and vampire lore please go to:


Biblical Forensics - Lost Faces of the Bible

Lost Faces of the Bible by Associated Producers Ltd (made for National Geographic and Vision TV) was released in the spring of 2013.  Dr. Israel Hershkovitz (Department of Anatomy and Anthropology, Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv, Israel) supplied the skull analyses as well as the cultural and historic information required to complete the four facial approximations.  Rapid prototype models of four skulls were created from CT scans for the purpose of facial approximations.

A male skeleton was found in a cave near Jericho.  He was probably between the ages of 40-50 years when he died approximately 6000 years ago.  Dr. Hershkovitz described an Eastern Mediterranean male with a small skull and uneven canines with advanced bone resorption of the anterior maxilla. In life, the subject would probably show a narrow nose, tanned skin color and advanced wrinkling due to sun damage with black curly hair and brown eyes as seen in the present Eastern Mediterranean population.

Fragmented skeletal remains found in a jar during excavation belonged to an infant, aged approximately new born to 3 months of age, who died on this earth approximately 5000 yrs ago.  Due to the age of the child, no sex determination could be made. A juvenile forensic facial reconstruction can not be completed for an infant this age due to the difficulties of determining the accurate sex and racial origin of the remains.  In the practical world, a facial reconstruction would not be completed for identification purposes as the growing face of the subject would change drastically over short periods of time making identification of the sculpture or drawing outdated before it reached the public. The face was created subjectively for the purpose of the documentary.
Photo by Jimmy Hamelin - © Associated Producers Ltd

A male skeleton was found on a kibbutz near Sasa approximately 30 yrs ago.  He was probably between 40-50 years of age when he died and lived on this earth approx. 2000 yrs ago.  He was described as an Eastern Mediterranean male with a protruding brow ridge, small square eye orbits and a strong muscular neck.  He would probably exhibit tanned skin color with advanced wrinkling due to sun damage with black curly hair and brown eyes.  There was no evidence found during excavation to suggest a specific hairstyle but the custom of payots or ringlets worn on the sides of the face was present during this era and the subject could or could not have worn his hair styled in this fashion. Biblical reference: This man from Galilee lived in the same area and time period as Jesus.

A female skeleton was found near Ashkelon district. She was described as between 18-21 years of age when she died approximately 3000 yrs ago. She was a small female with a gracile skull and would exhibit a southern European-Caucasian appearance with light skin, dark brown to black hair and probably brown eyes whose nose would be narrow and slope downward showing a Greek-Roman style bridge and pointed chin.  Biblical reference: Artifacts found with the skeleton, location and age classify this skull as a Philistine who lived during the time of Delilah.

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Private James Simpson - 1784

Parks Canada celebrates its 100th anniversary with the CSI investigation of  skeletal remains found on the shoreline at Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia in 1994.  The subsequent investigation into the remains and artifacts found with the skeleton reveal that the individual is likely Private James Simpson of the 57th Regiment circa 1784.

Private Simpson is shown wearing the uniform of the 57th Regiment detailing the artifacts found in the grave.

Visit Fort Anne, Nova Scotia to see the complete display of artifacts and investigation of Private Simpson beginning July 16, 2011 at Annapolis Royal.
Illustration courtesy of © Parks Canada- Fort Anne, NS

For more information on the story of Private James Simpson read the article in the Annapolis Spectator by Heather Killen

CBC Podcast at Information Mornings: Denise Hansen, Parks Canada, describes the discovery and investigation- 

Visit Private Simpson at Parks Canada- Fort Anne National Historic Site


The Bank Robber Charlie Pitts?

Charlie Pitts rode with Jesse James in 1876 to rob the First National Bank in Northfield Minnesota.  The hold-up was unsuccessful and the posse tracked Pitts down two weeks later.  Another shoot out left Pitts riddled with 5 bullet holes including the fatal shot through the breast bone.

As a notorious member of the infamous James Gang, Pitts' body was put on display at the State Capitol in St. Paul, MN.  The unclaimed remains passed through the hands of several doctors over the years as a medical specimen until if finally disappeared.

A skeleton labeled Charlie Pitts has been the property of the Northfield Historical Society for the last 25 years.  Researchers Jim Bailey and Kate Blue from the Minnesota State University, Mankato completed a forensic investigation of the bones and presented their findings at the American Association of Forensic Sciences in Denver, Colorado.

Is this the face of Charlie Pitts?
Cross-border collaboration gave a face to the skeletonized remains.  A CT medical scan was sent from Minnesota to Victoria Lywood.  The files were converted to a printable format by Dr. Andrew Nelson, University of Western Ontario in London, Canada.  Mark Ewanchyna, Engineering Dept. at John Abbott College, Montreal, Canada printed the 3D model of the skull and the forensic facial approximation was completed.

A replica of the clay sculpture will be on display in September during the "Defeat of Jesse James Days" at the Northfield Historical Museum in Northfield, MN.

To read more about Kate Blue's and Jim Bailey's forensic investigation go to the Anthropology page at Minnesota State University.  Click here.

To see the life and death photos of the real Charlie Pitts, read all the details and discover the exciting conclusion to the investigation of the Charlie Pitts skeleton go to the Blog written by Hayes Scriven, Director of the Northfield Historical Society.  Click here.