2009-03-15

Vampire Slaying

Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of a vampire slaying performed in Venice during a sixteenth-century plague epidemic. A brick inserted in the jaws of a corpse was thought to prevent a supposed vampire from spreading disease by means of a spell through its open mouth.

Ariel David (AP) reports:

The well-preserved skeleton was found in 2006 on the Lazzaretto Nuovo island, north of the lagoon city, amid other corpses buried in a mass grave during an epidemic of plague that hit Venice in 1576.

'Vampires don’t exist, but studies show people at the time believed they did,' said Matteo Borrini, a forensic archaeologist and anthropologist at Florence University who studied the case over the last two years. 'For the first time we have found evidence of an exorcism against a vampire.'


Much of the widespread belief in vampires in medieval Europe was fuelled by misunderstanding of port-mortem phenomena. Articles at Discovery (AP) and National Geographic provide the (morbid) details.

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