Archaeologist finds 'vampire grave' complete with stake through chest

If you weren't in the Halloween spirit already, this recent archaeological find just mind get you there.

Professor Nikolai Ovcharov, affectionately known as "Bulgaria's Indiana Jones," announced last week that he made a spooky new discovery during a dig at the ruins of Perperikon, an ancient city near Bulgaria's southern border that was first established by the Thracians in 5,000 B.C. Ovcharov uncovered a "vampire grave," featuring a well-preserved skeleton with a two-pound iron stake driven into its chest. The skeleton's left leg had also been removed and placed next to the rest of the body. 

The skeleton is believed to be that of a 40-to-50-year-old man who lived in the first half of the 13th century. Ovcharov believes the find is definitely evidence of vampire beliefs, though the stake wasn't there to "kill" the undead, but rather to pin it into the grave and keep it from rising up (the removal of one leg helps with that, too). 

"We have no doubts that once again we’re seeing an anti-vampire ritual being carried out," Ovcharov said. "Often they were applied to people who had died in unusual circumstances – such as suicide." 

The find is the latest in a long string of "vampire grave" discoveries in Bulgaria, including two that were uncovered in 2012 and 2013 200 miles east of Perperikon. Bozhidar Dimitrov, who heads Bulgaria's National History Museum, said about 100 "vampire" skeletons in all have been discovered in the country. Every time one of those discoveries comes up, we get a fascinating insight into some of the creepier medieval beliefs about the dead, but this time around the "vampire grave" is perhaps not the spookiest thing Ovcharov unearthed. He also discovered the skeletons of a woman and a child who were arranged in their grave to look like the Virgin Mary with her child, likely as a measure to ward off the plague. 

(Via The Telegraph)

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