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A skeleton dating back to 700 years ago was found in Sozopol, Bulgaria, with torn teeth and an iron pole lodged in his chest; according to scholars, it was a practice against the vampires, which for many centuries have been considered a real danger in much of Europe.
Modern vampires are well-established in the popular imagination: have fangs, they feed on human blood and are not reflected in the mirrors.
They can be kept away with the garlic, or killed them by planting a stake through the heart. Some, like Dracula, are aristocrats living in castles.
But at the beginning of their legend they had not so precise characteristics. The scholars suspect that the modern conception of these “monsters” Halloween has evolved from various popular beliefs cultivated throughout Europe.
Beliefs that revolved around the fear that a dead, once buried, could still hurt the living. Often the legends born from a poor understanding of the way in which bodies decompose. When the skin of the body dries and retires, teeth and nails may look longer, as if they were grown.
When internal organs decompose, from the nose and mouth can exit a dark liquid. Who does not know this process might think that the liquid is blood that the dead drank from the living. But the loss of blood from the corpses was not the only reason for suspicion.
Before you find out how certain diseases are spread, people believed that vampires were among the occult forces that slowly destroyed the community. “The great constant in the evolution of the vampire legend has been their close association with the disease,” writes Mark Collins Jenkins in his book Vampire Forensics.
Try to kill vampires or prevent them from feeding on the blood gave people the impression of being able to have some control over epidemics. For this reason, the psychosis waves for vampires tended to coincide with the appearance of outbreaks. In 2006, archaeologists have unearthed in Venice, buried with the victims of the plague, a sixteenth century skull with a brick in her mouth.
The brick was probably a system to prevent witches or vampires leave the tomb to kill people. Do not you think that all vampires physically leave the tomb. In Northern Germany it was believed that nachzehrer, or “post-eaters”, remained underground, eating the shroud in which they were wrapped.
Even in this case, the belief had probably to do with the leaking liquid with the decomposition, which tends to break the shroud creating the illusion that the body if it is eaten. Also from these underground chewers still they are causing problems, and indeed it was believed that they were the most active beings in the course of epidemics. In the treaty of 1679 De Masticatione mortuorum, a Protestant theologian accused the nachzehrer to hurt the surviving family members through hidden processes. The theologian wrote that it was necessary to stop exhuming the bodies and they will fill the ground mouth, perhaps adding, for good measure, also a rock and a coin.
If they were unable to chew, he assured the Treaty, they would die of hunger. The vampire stories continued to thrive Southern and Eastern Europe throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, to the humiliation of some rulers. In the mid-eighteenth century, Pope Benedict XIV declared that vampires were only “human imagination deceptive fantasies”, and the Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria defined the beliefs about vampires “superstition and lies.”
However, efforts to fight the vampires continued. And, oddly enough, one of the last great waves of fear for vampires occurred even at the end of the nineteenth century, in New England, two centuries after the terrible witch trials of Salem.