Photograph by Nikolay Doychinov, AFP/Getty Images
The discovery of a 700-year-old skeleton in Bulgaria—seen at the country's National Museum of History in June—offers evidence that the fear of vampires is far older than Bram Stoker's Dracula.
The "vampire" was found entombed among church ruins in the Black Sea town of Sozopol (map) earlier in the month. The skeleton had been stabbed in the chest with an iron rod (upper right), which was in the tomb next to the body.
In addition, the skeleton's teeth had been pulled. Scholars believe the rod and tooth-pulling were techniques villagers used to prevent dead men from turning into vampires.
The vampire obsession dates back millennia in countries across Europe.
"In graves thousands of years old, skeletons have been found staked, tied up, buried facedown, decapitated ... all well-attested ways of preempting the [attacks] of wandering corpses," wrote former National Geographic historian Mark Collins Jenkins in his book Vampire Forensics.
(Also see "Vampire Expert Digs His Fangs into True Blood, Twilight.")
Published July 24, 2012