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Vampire skeletons discovered in Bulgaria

Scott Hixson

Vampire skeletons unearthed in Bulgaria

The skeletons were found with iron stakes in their chests

Vampire skeletons have been unearthed by archaeologists in Bulgaria. The skeletons were pierced through the chests with iron spikes and date back to the Middle Ages.

The Bulgarian skeletons were discovered in the Black Sea town of Sozopol, and based on the discovery of iron rods protruding from the skeletons’ chests, they have been termed “vampire skeletons.”

“These two skeletons stabbed with rods illustrate a practice, which was common in some Bulgarian villages up until the first decade of the 20th century,” according to National History Museum Chief Bozhidar Dimitrov.

The practice referred to by Dimitrov is one many casual vampire fans ought to be familiar with, staking the deceased through the heart. According to Dimitrov, certain pagan cultures would stake those they considered to have led a bad life in order to prevent the deceased from resurrecting. Another reason, and perhaps more practical one, for staking a corpse was that people believed the rod would keep the body firmly planted in the grave – think tent stakes.

The practice was common in the Balkans, added Dimitrov, whom said that some 100 other similar burials have already been discovered in Bulgaria.

In 2004, archaeologist Petar Balabanov unearthed six staked skeletons at a site near the Bulgarian town of Debelt. Balabanov has stated that the pagan burial rite was also practiced in other Balkan countries such as Serbia.  

In 2009, the remains of a woman were unearthed on the Venetian island of Lazzaretto Nuovo, dating from the outbreak of the plague in Venice in 1576. Anthropologist Matteo Borrini at the University of Florence remarked that it was common for populations to consider the spread of the plague as a result of vampires. According to Borrini, suspicious gravediggers shoved a rock into the woman’s skull in order to prevent her from chewing through her burial shroud and infecting the living.

Many consider the Balkans to be the birthplace of vampire lore. Both Vlad the Impaler, commonly known as Dracula, and Elizabeth Bathory were Romanian royalty are believed to be the impetus for the legends of the undead. If, for instance, you are more familiar with Robert Pattinson than Elizabeth Bathory, you might want to run a quick search and brush up on the chilling and gruesome details of her life that brought the legends of vampires from the dead to the . . . undead.

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