A few days ago we told you that Bulgarian archaeologists have discovered two corpses of ‘vampires’ in excavations carried out near a monastery in the city of Sozopol. Both bodies are more than 800 years old and have iron rods piercing their chests. But they are not the only ones because they continue to discover these corpses in the continuous excavations.
According to the director of the Bulgarian National Museum, Bozidhar Dimitrov, in recent years up to 100 of these bodies have been found in the country: “They illustrate a common practice in some Bulgarian towns until the first decade of the 20th century”.
Even today The vampires they remain a very real threat in the minds of the inhabitants of some communities in Eastern Europe. So much so that until garlic and crucifixes are often seen through the towns, and exhume corpses for later drive a stake through their hearts. Archaeologists have recently discovered 3,000 Czech graves in which the bodies had been laden with stones to prevent the dead from coming out of their graves.
The legend of vampires Bloodsuckers preying on the flesh of the living dates back thousands of years and was common in many ancient cultures where tales of these creatures abounded. The advent of Christianity further fueled the vampire legends, since they were considered the antithesis of Christ. Those monsters would lurk in the streets looking for new victims to join in their unholy hobby of sucking the blood of humans and animals.
In the medieval timesWhen the Church was omnipotent and the threat of eternal damnation encouraged superstition among the peasantry affected by the Black Death, fear of vampires was everywhere. In some cases, the dead were buried with a brick embedded in the mouth to prevent get up to eat those who had died from the plague.
Records show that in the 12th century in the Scottish Borders, a woman claimed she was being terrorized by a dead priest that he had been buried in Melrose Abbey only days before. When the monks examined the tomb, they confirmed that they found the corpse covered in fresh blood.
However, Vampiric folklore largely emerged in the Eastern countries and in Greece. In these places, unlike England, Germany and the United States, there was no tradition referring to witches, so the vampire became a scapegoat for all the ills of the community.
With the expansion of the Austrian Empire, the west received the story of the remote village of Kisilova (Hungary). According to what was said, in 1725 the inhabitants of that town blamed a series of unexplained deaths on Peter Plogojowitz, a peasant who had been dead and buried for ten weeks.
They demanded that the coffin be opened to make sure he was dead, but legend has it that when the Austrian Imperial Provisor agreed to these requests, what they found was a corpse with blood dripping from its mouth, nails that looked like claws, long fangs and a skin in perfect condition. The citizens resorted to the tradition of drive a stake through the heart and then incinerate their remains.
Actually, the horror these people felt derived from ignorance about the decomposition of the human body. Nails and teeth do not grow after death, but skin and flesh retract, giving the impression of abnormally long nails and incisors. The bloating is due to gases caused by decomposition, giving the body the appearance that the deceased has been enjoying a good meal. For a time, the skin can also appear reddened after death, and blood can pool around the facial cavities.
In some areas, vampires were known as "shroud eaters"As the cloth covering the corpse's face had apparently been eaten, exposing fierce teeth. But in reality, the culprits for the dissolution of the cloth were the bacteria in the mouth.
About eight years after peasant Peter Plogojowitz became the most hated corpse in Eastern Europe, the London Journal published an article on “vampires”In Madreyga (Hungary), in what was probably the first use of the word in English.
From then on, different legends and stories began to emerge that were written in various works. In 1819, the doctor of Lord byron, John Polidori, published his short story, “The vampire of the night”, In which an aristocrat had a penchant for drinking the blood of young women.
But it was Bram Stoker who refined the story with "Dracula.", published in 1897. The Transylvanian aristocrat's thirst for the blood of young women was matched only by his longing for fine tailoring. In 1920, the play premiered in London and required the presence of a nurse to tend to the traumatized members of the public.
But vampirism has not been limited to history books. A 20th century tale tells how a man in Greece woke up from a coma at his own funeral, the congregation thought he was a vampire and was stoned to death.
In the 1960s, an anthropologist recorded how the elderly residents of a Greek island could still remember the murder of the last vampire. And just eight years ago it was clear that the belief in vampires has not yet disappeared in Romania. In the remote village of Marotinul de Sus, the body of Petre Toma, a former teacher, was exhumed from his grave, had his heart gouged out and impaled. The six men who excavated the 76-year-old body they doused the coffin with garlic and burned the heart to make sure that Mr. Toma couldn't rise from the dead to drink their blood.
After his arrest, the leader of the men explained that they had acted for the benefit of the people, because the old professor had appeared in the dreams of many villagers as a vampire. The band also insisted that when Toma's heart was removed, the corpse let out a deep sigh.
Despite being incarcerated by authorities for illegal exhumation, many villagers praised them for their actions. For them, vampires are not a myth.
Vampire image: Jean-no on Wikimedia
Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved History and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.