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Vampire Burial Site

Bulgarian archaeologists unearth second ‘vampire’ grave


Archaeologists working on Bulgaria’s Perperikon site have found the skeleton of a male buried with an iron stake plunged through its chest, a ritual practiced in the Middle Ages to prevent the individual ‘turning into the undead’. Coins found with the body have been tentatively dated to the 13th and 14th century.

It is the first finding of its kind to be made at Perperikon – a site of various religious activity for about 7000 years ago and a treasure trove that archaeologists are still not finished exploring after more than a decade of digging.  However, it is not the first ‘vampire grave’ to be uncovered in Bulgaria.

The discovery echoes a similar one made in Sozopol last year.  “I say that he is almost a ‘twin’ of the Sozopol [vampire] because on the left side, between his neck and chest, there is a massive ploughshare,” said Professor Nikolai Ovcharov. “In other cases we have found nails and spikes, but there is no other known case, except the one in Sozopol, where a ploughshare was used. It is a ritual to prevent undeath.”

Archaeologist Petar Valabanov, who in 2004 discovered six nailed-down skeletons at a site near the eastern Bulgarian town of Debelt, said the pagan rite had also been practised in neighbouring Serbia and other Balkan countries. Only 2 months ago we reported on the discovery of ‘vampire’ burial sites in Poland.  Throughout Bulgaria, the remains of over 100 vampire-treated people, all of them men, and all of them prominent citizens, have been found.

According to pagan beliefs, people who were considered bad during their lifetimes might turn into vampires after death unless stabbed in the chest with an iron or wooden rod before being buried. People believed the rod would also pin them down in their graves to prevent them from leaving at midnight and terrorising the living. Vampire legends form an important part of the region's folklore.

By April Holloway



The right names are Archaeologist Petar Balabanov and Djebel.

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April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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