The discovery of a 700-year-old skeleton in Bulgaria—seen at the country’s National Museum of History in June—offers evidence that the fear of vampires is far older than Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
An archaeologist cleans one of two “vampire” skeletons excavated from its Sozopol burial site in June.
An unearthed skeleton in Sozopol cradles the chunk of iron it was buried with—a remnant of the bar rammed through the corpse’s chest.
Archaeologist Kalina Kostadincheva dusts off one of the skeletons from the excavation site. More.
Bulgarian archaeologists have uncovered new finds from a monastery dating back to the 13th century, i.e. the apex of the Second Bulgarian Empire.
The team of archaeologists Prof. Nikolay Ovcharov and Prof. Hitko Vachev, who have been exploring sites at Veliko Tarnovo, the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, have found a number of artifacts, and have uncovered the walls of a medieval church, which was part of the St. Peter and St. Paul Monastery complex in the Middle Ages. It is more precisely associated with the rule of Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Asen II (1218-1241 AD).
“The walls that we have uncovered date back to the first half of the 13th century. Part of the architectural remains have turned out to be ruined by construction in the past 30 years. We have also found a second wall dating back to the 14-15th century which is a testimony as to how the monastery was transformed. Read more.
Bulgarian archaeologists have discovered a buried man with an iron stick in his chest in the Black Sea town of Sozopol.
The man, who was buried over 700 years ago, was stabbed multiple times in the chest and the stomach, as his contemporaries feared that he would raise from the dead as a vampire, National History Museum director Bozhidar Dimitrov has told local media.
Experts believe that the man may have been an intellectual and perhaps a medic, as such individuals often raised suspicions in the Middle Ages.
The man’s grave was discovered near the apse of a church, which suggests that he was an aristocrat. According to archaeologists, this is the first time a “vampire” burial has been discovered in Sozopol.
Over 100 buried people whose corpses were stabbed to prevent them from becoming vampires have been discovered across Bulgaria over the years, according to Bozhidar Dimitrov, head of the Bulgarian National History Museum. (source).
What may have been an exorcism of a vampire in Venice is now drawing bad blood among scientists arguing over whether gravediggers were attempting to defeat an undead monster.
The controversy begins with a mass grave of 16th-century plague victims on the Venetian island of Nuovo Lazzaretto. The remains of a woman there apparently had a brick shoved in her mouth, perhaps to exorcise the corpse in what may have been the first vampire burial known in archaeology, said forensic anthropologist Matteo Borrini of the University of Florence in Italy.
Vampire superstitions were common when plague devastated Europe, and much, if not all, of this folklore could be due to misconceptions about the natural stages of decomposition, Borrini said. The recently dead can often appear unnervingly alive. As the corpse’s skin shrinks and pulls back, for example, hair and nails may appear to grow after death. Read more.