- Archaeologists have unearthed a vampire burial site in Bulgaria
- Skeletons were found with metal stakes driven through their hearts
- The discoveries are the 6th and 7th vampires dug up in two years
Ollie Gillman for MailOnline
15:53 GMT, 9 October 2014
16:06 GMT, 9 October 2014
Archaeologists have unearthed what they believe to be a vampire burial site in Bulgaria.
The so-called ‘vampire graves’ contain skeletons which all have an iron rod impaled through their bodies where their heart would have been.
The discovery, made at the ancient temple of Perperion, south-east of the Bulgarian capital Sofia, is further evidence that people really did believe that vampires could rise from the dead if they were not buried properly.
Vampire graves: Archaeologists have unearthed what they believe to be a vampire burial site in Bulgaria
Dracula? The so-called ‘vampire graves’ contain skeletons which all have an iron rod impaled through their bodies where their heart would have been
Out for the Count: Scores of people were killed because they were thought to be vampires, similar to witch-hunts elsewhere in Europe and North America
In the 13th and 14th centuries, many Eastern Europeans held the belief that vampires were real, causing mass hysteria when people suspected someone of being one of the blood-sucking creatures.
Scores of people were killed because they were thought to be vampires, similar to witch-hunts elsewhere in Europe and North America.
However it may be possible that some towns had a ritual of hammering a stake into dead people’s hearts to make sure they did not join the undead, even if there was no suspicion of them being a vampire.
The skeletons were found by ‘Bulgaria’s Indiana Jones’, Professor Nikolai Ovcharov.
Last year his team found a 35-40-year-old male with a metal pole impaled through where his heart would have been at a nearby site.
Before that Professor Ovcharov had found 700-year-old corpses ‘nailed to the ground with iron staples driven into the limbs’.
Burial ritual: The technique of impaling a stake through the heart was believed to be the best method for killing a vampire
Hard at work: The skeletons were found by ‘Bulgaria’s Indiana Jones’, Prof Nikolai Ovcharov, and his team
The site: This week’s discoveries are the sixth and seventh vampires dug up in just two years in Bulgaria
John Van Eyssen, in the film Horror of Dracula, prepares to drive a wooden stake through the heart of vampire
The year before that, a group headed by the professor unearthed another 700-year-old skeleton of a man pinned down in his earth in a church in the Black Sea town of Sozopol.
This week’s discoveries are the sixth and seventh vampires dug up in just two years in Bulgaria.
However, the phenomenon is not just Bulgarian. Last year Polish archaeologists unearthed four ‘vampire graves’ where the bodies had their heads removed and placed between their legs.
The discoveries near the southern town of Gliwice showed that different towns believed in different methods for killing vampires.
EUROPE’S FEAR OF BLOOD-SUCKING VAMPIRES IN THE MIDDLE AGES
The belief in vampires was widespread throughout Bulgaria and other parts of central Europe throughout the Middle Ages.
The word vampire is derived from the original Slavic term ‘opyrb’ or ‘opir’ which later appears as ‘vipir’, ‘vepir’, or ‘vapir’.
Drunkards, thieves and murderers were all believed to be likely candidates to become vampires.
Appearing completely normal, they would arrive at a town and live amongst the people often even marrying and fathering children. But at night they would wander the countryside in search of blood.
These types of vampires could be destroyed with a stake through the heart.
One account maintains that a vampire was the soul of an outlaw who died in the mountains or forest or along a country road, and whose corpse is eaten by crows, wolves, or some other such scavengers.
Because such a soul is not permitted to enter heaven or hell it remains on earth haunting the place where he was killed strangling and drinking the blood of anyone who comes by.
Another account states a person who died a violent, unnatural death or whose corpse was jumped over by a cat before burial, can become a vampire.
In such cases during the first 40 days after burial, the bones turn to gelatin and the vampire performs mischief at night – releasing animals from their pens, scattering house hold items, and suffocating people.
During the first forty days it can be destroyed by a ‘Vampiridzhija’ – a professional vampire hunter capable of seeing them – or alternatively devoured by a wolf.
However if not destroyed in this time period the Vampire would develop a skeleton and become even more fierce.