The discovery last week of a 700-year-old skeleton with metal stakes where his heart had been has stirred a bout of vampire-mania in Europe and attracted flocks of tourists to the churchyard grave site in Bulgaria’s Black Sea port of Sozopol. So keen is the interest, the Bulgarian newspaper Standart reported Thursday, that Bulgarian authorities have moved the disinterred remains to a special display situation at the Bulgarian Natural History Museum in Sofia. At least 100 graves have been discovered in the course of contemporary-day archaeological excavations in which the remains appeared to have been pinned down with iron rods or stakes, the newspaper mentioned.
As lately as a century ago, Balkan peoples held to the belief that staking down the corpses of men and women who they regarded a evil would avoid them from rising from the dead and continuing to torment the living, archaeologist and museum director Bozhidar Dimitrov told journalists in Sofia, the Bulgarian capital.
“A group of brave males would reopen their graves and pierce the corpses with iron or wooden rods. Iron rod was employed for the richer vampires,” Dimitrov told journalists gathered around the skeleton, which he stated was most likely that of a notorious Black Sea pirate known as Krivich, or “Crooked.”
Historically, vampire lore has spread from Transylvania in neighboring Romania, exactly where a brutal 15th century ruler known as Vlad the Impaler dealt with his enemies by skewering them on stakes and posting them to suffer their gruesome deaths in public. Vlad the Impaler was believed to be the true-life inspiration for novelist Bram Stoker’s fictional vampire, Dracula.