We might believe vampires don’t exist but back in medieval Europe it was common to protect oneself from a bloodsucking creature.
In the past decade, archeologists found many proofs of vampire burial. Skeletons exposed in specialized exhibition manifesting the belief of our ancestors, the belief of vampires.
In the sixteenth century, people were not understanding the human body yet as well as we do today. Many diseases were mysteries to villagers of numerous countries, and often, it was up to the Church to come up with an explanation.
When the spreading of a bloodsucking creature entered Europe, people would come up with ways to repel the vampires but couldn’t explain its presence or how it came to existence. While some thought they were demons, others believed they were revenants, and some took advantage of the people’s fears and became vampire hunters.
However, the most common explanation for vampires being part of our history lies in the ignorance those people were facing when plague would afflict their villages. When tuberculosis surfaced, no one understood it. When diseases spread and blood coming out of orifices would be a result of one of the symptoms, often people would accuse the sick to drink the blood of innocents.
Those accused of being vampires would face a trial often resulting in a stake planted in their frail bodies. Because most accused people were, in fact, sick, the “torture” would begin after their last breath.
Bodies of “vampires” would be cut open, their heart taken away and burned. Then, their limbs, staked to the coffin and in their mouth would be a rock. Sometimes, the rock would be so big that the jaw dislocated. The reason for those precautions on a dead body was to prevent the vampire from awakening and walk out of the coffin to feed on an innocent victim.
The Bodies of Vampires
In 2009, a body of a vampire surfaced in the archeological world in Venice, Italy, more precisely on the Venetian Island of Lazzaretto Nuovo. The body dated back to the 16th Century and was among other plague victims as many bodies carried the Venetian plague at the time and of course, no one understood the disease or the process of decomposition. That woman was unfortunate and went through decomposition with a rock shoved in her mouth.
Poland, in 2016, an archeologist found the body of another European vampire, dating back, again, to the 1600s. The body of the Polish vampire was part of a quite special exhibition of the same name. The bones showed holes in each limb, and a stone was in its mouth. In northern Poland, the vampire body was present for everyone to see at the Kamien Museum of Land History.
The complete skeleton showed all the macabre rituals vampires would go through. The staking of each limb, the rock in the mouth and it probably had its heart burned. The belief of vampires was widespread when new diseases would surface. Vampires were victims, maybe?
Now the Spectacle
As archeologists find more skeleton showing signs of vampire burials, it has me thinking if among those most often sick people, was another humanoid species taking advantage of wildly spread disease such as tuberculosis, black plague among others.
Today, we can only feel the fright left behind by our ancestors, unaware of the lifeless body stages of decomposition. We rejoice knowing that people don’t believe in vampires. So, I wonder, did we exterminate all vampires or are we looking back at a belief that hides something more?