A "Vampire" Skeleton With A Stake Through Its Heart Was Just Unearthed In Bulgaria

Just in time for Halloween, an archaeologist has excavated a vampire grave in Bulgaria. Yup, really — he discovered a skeleton with a stake through its chest. Professor Nikolai Ovcharov discovered the remains while digging the ruins of the ancient Thracian city of Perperikon in southern Bulgaria. On Thursday, Ovcharov announced his finding, noting that it was evidently a ritual burial of someone believed to be a vampire. Apparently, this kind of grave is not all that uncommon in Bulgaria.

According to professor Ovcharov, speaking to the Telegraph, the grave was unquestionably "an anti-vampire ritual being carried out." His claim was based on the presence of the metal stake stuck in the corpse, which he explained was likely used to keep the "bad" person from rising up again. The stake was an iron rod used for plowing and had been hammered through the deceased's chest. The corpse's leg was apparently also removed below the knee of the left leg and placed beside the body.

Ovcharov dated the medieval skeleton back to the early 13th Century, and guessed that it belonged to a man between 40 and 50 years old. Perperikon, where he burial site was located, has been inhabited since 5,000 B.C. and is home to several of these vampire graves.

In 2012, archaeologists dug up a pair of 700-year-old skeletons, also pinned down with iron rods through their chests, in the Black Sea town of Sozopol. They had been buried in a similar way, reflecting a pagan practice that historians say was common up until about a century ago.

Bozhidar Dimitrov, head of the Bulgarian Natural History Museum in Sofia, told the Sofia News Agency :

These people were believed to be evil while they were alive, and it was believed that they would become vampires once they are dead, continuing to torment people.

Hence, the stakes through their hearts. The skeletons were subsequently displayed at the Natural History Museum.

In 2004, six other skeletons were found nailed down in their graves in the town of Debelt in eastern Bulgaria. The vampire folklore is apparently popular in surrounding areas as well, since similar burials have been discovered in neighboring Serbia and throughout the Balkans.

These discoveries are just a series in about 100 known burials in which the bodies were stabbed repeatedly or pinned down in order to prevent the dead from rising again and doing evil deeds, like sucking blood, for one.

And here I thought vampires were only big among the goths and tweens.

Images: The Telegraph/Twitter, The Huffington Post, Wikimedia Commons