Bram Stoker published Dracula in 1897, but years before that novel made vampires famous, New England had its own famous living dead. The stories tell of dead relatives rising from the grave to haunt their family – even drink their blood. Townspeople would become so scared they would have the Mayor and Church approve an exhumation and beheading. And if the heart had blood in it – many freshly buried bodies did – they would burn the heart and the family would eat the ashes.
The cause for all this terror was a Tuberculosis epidemic that made bodies look like – from Smithsonian:
“The emaciated figure strikes one with terror,” reads one 18th-century description, “the forehead covered with drops of sweat; the cheeks painted with a livid crimson, the eyes sunk…the breath offensive, quick and laborious, and the cough so incessant as to scarce allow the wretched sufferer time to tell his complaints.” Indeed, symptoms “progressed in such a way that it seemed like something was draining the life and blood out of somebody.”
For country people in the pre-industrial area – with no scientific explanation – it could seem that someone was “feasting on the living tissue and blood.” Read the full story from Smithsonian Magazine:
The Great New England Vampire Panic
Bulgarian archaeologists are showing off two centuries-old skeletons that they say were pinned down through their chests with iron rods to keep them from turning into vampires — a trend that was all the rage in medieval Europe.
The “vampire” skeletons were excavated recently near the Black Sea town of Sozopol, according to reports from The Associated Press and AFP. Bozhidar Dimitrov, head of Bulgaria’s National History Museum, was quoted as saying that corpses were regularly treated this way in some parts of the country until the beginning of the 20th century.
About 100 similar burials have been found in Bulgaria over the years.
Bulgarian archaeologist Petar Balabanov has found a number of nailed-down skeletons near the eastern town of Debelt, at gravesites dating as far back as the 1st century. According to custom, the bodies had to be pinned down just in case they tried to rise from the grave.
Of the many explanations for this Vampire myth, the one I found most interesting is the plague. During which thousands of people were dying with no explanation, and that sounds an awful lot like all the vampire movies!
Even the symptom of the plague, the buboes, could look like some nasty bite…
1st place in Greyscale Gorilla’s 5-Second Project contest under the Monster Bash theme.
My animation is a 5 second story about a little vampire that comes to life in paper and gets bashed with a poetic wooden stake – a pencil.
See them all – Greyscale Gorilla – Monster Bash Winners
// Thx to Rob Elliott