"Vampire" unearthed in Venice plague grave


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The Canadian

ROME (Reuters) - Italian researchers believe they have found the remains of a female "vampire" in Venice, buried with a brick jammed between her jaws to prevent her feeding on victims of a plague which swept the city in the 16th century.

Matteo Borrini, an anthropologist from the University of Florence, said the discovery on the small island of Lazzaretto Nuovo in the Venice lagoon supported the medieval belief that vampires were behind the spread of plagues like the Black Death.

"This is the first time that archaeology has succeeded in reconstructing the ritual of exorcism of a vampire," Borrini told Reuters by telephone. "This helps ... authenticate how the myth of vampires was born."

The skeleton was unearthed in a mass grave from the Venetian plague of 1576 -- in which the artist Titian died -- on Lazzaretto Nuovo, which lies around three km (2 miles) northeast of Venice and was used as a sanitorium for plague sufferers.

The succession of plagues which ravaged Europe between 1300 and 1700 fostered the belief in vampires, mainly because the decomposition of corpses was not well understood, Borrini said.

Gravediggers reopening mass graves would sometimes come across bodies bloated by gas, with hair still growing, and blood seeping from their mouths and believe them to be still alive.

The shrouds used to cover the faces of the dead were often decayed by bacteria in the mouth, revealing the corpse's teeth, and vampires became known as "shroud-eaters."

According to medieval medical and religious texts, the "undead" were believed to spread pestilence in order to suck the remaining life from corpses until they acquired the strength to return to the streets again.

"To kill the vampire you had to remove the shroud from its mouth, which was its food like the milk of a child, and put something uneatable in there," said Borrini. "It's possible that other corpses have been found with bricks in their mouths, but this is the first time the ritual has been recognized."

While legends about blood-drinking ghouls date back thousands of years, the modern figure of the vampire was encapsulated in the Irish author Bram Stoker's 1897 novel "Dracula," based on 18th century eastern European folktales.

Source: REUTERS

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Dischordiant

I always thought they decapitated them, and placed garlic or roses in the mouth. Never heard of bricks.

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Damo R.

Twilight promotion? :laugh:

Seriously tho it would be awesome if they could find things of myth and legend out there.

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Medking

definitely interesting. i mean, it's not a vampire, as such, rather an explanation to the origins of the myth.

my wonder is how they became associated with bats? i presume there's another myth behind that....

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JustGeorge

absolute crap.....

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Denholm

Did they have fangs?

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redvamp128

I am surprised they didn't find the corpse turned towards the center of the earth. You may also wish to read this about bricks...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erzs%C3%A9bet_B%C3%A1thory

I can actually see the bricks as being a tool to actually promote the decay, letting more bugs inside a corpse.

Though I just wonder why they are even trying to break open these graves. To me It would seem though highly unlikely or so they say for the diseases of times gone by to still be active. I still would not like to take that chance, I mean can you think about it the Plague returning after all these years.

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The Canadian

It's never really left....

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Laura
I always thought they decapitated them, and placed garlic or roses in the mouth. Never heard of bricks.

I think different areas would have different customs. Half of the vampire stuff is made up by film and book writers anyway I think..

....

Though I just wonder why they are even trying to break open these graves. To me It would seem though highly unlikely or so they say for the diseases of times gone by to still be active. I still would not like to take that chance, I mean can you think about it the Plague returning after all these years.

400 years is a loooong time for something to last, but I guess it might not be impossible.

We're not too sure about what that plague was, but it's probably never died out:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubonic_plague

They believe fleas on rats spread it in the past, that is much less of an issue for many of us making an outbreak less likely. Sure we have lots of rats in modern cities, but they are not in our houses with their fleas feasting on us.

Modern medicine would probably come to the rescue quite efficiently as well, and if not, many of us are descendants of survivors and probably have genes and immune systems that would be able to protect us. I think there is little to fear from this.

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  • 8 months later...
MytMowse

That's a messed up way to go, with a brick in your mouth.

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McCordRm

Well, we don't know if it was added before or after the person died.

Regardless, it beats being burned as a witch as far as I'm concerned.

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Growled

That's very interesting. We may never know why the people of that time thought she was a vampire.

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  • 3 weeks later...
soniqstylz

The vampires just want us to believe it's a myth.

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NikkiRox

did it sparkle like a douchebag in the sunlight?

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Damo R.
did it sparkle like a douchebag in the sunlight?

haha :rofl:

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ThisSiteHasLostItsCharm

dare I say "pics or it didn't happen".

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Damo R.

vampire1.jpg

eng_vampire_2_bm_ba_772472g.jpg

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zeta_immersion

No fangs? maybe that brick fell in its mouth after death

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