Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Real life vampire??

I'm always on the lookout for real-life news of the paranormal. I also devour odd historical tidbits. A couple weeks ago, I came across a news story that fed both my addictions.

Recently, the remains of a medieval "vampire" were found near Venice, Italy. When a team led by Matteo Borrini, a forensic anthropologist from Florence University, dug up a woman who had been buried with a brick slammed into her mouth, they knew they had come across a real-life vampire.

Apparently, in the Middle Ages, it was thought that burying a suspected vampire with a brick in its mouth would prevent the corpse from rising again to feed. This was especially true for female vampires (who knows why?).

The vampire starvation method was often employed during outbreaks of plague. Superstitious medieval folk thought that the trickle of blood that came out of a dying plague victim's mouth was an indication that the dead person would rise again. It was the gravedigger's job to identify potential vampires and make sure they couldn't rise to turn others into the monsters that they had become.

The female vampire dug up by Borroni's team died in the Venetian plague of 1576, an epidemic that also took the life of the artist Titian. The brick that was found still in her mouth had been hammered in with such force that it broke her teeth. And I guess the anti-vampire charm worked, because it took more than 430 years for this particular vampiress to rise from her grave!

All my grisly best O.o ,


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EmilyBryan April 1, 2009 at 6:41 AM  

Fascinating. I never realized Titian was a plague victim. I got to see his "Rape of Europa" a couple weeks ago at the Isabella Gardner Museum here in Boston. In this painting, Europa (who I'm happy to report is of ample proportions!) is borne off on the back of Zeus in the guise of a bull.

Titian's bull is faced out with a very knowing, very naughty expression. I don't know how Titian managed it, but there is sentient soul looking out through those animal eyes.

Leah Hultenschmidt April 1, 2009 at 10:25 AM  

I love these tidbits, too. Thanks, Joy!

Gerri Russell April 1, 2009 at 10:28 AM  

How cool! Thanks for sharing!

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner April 1, 2009 at 11:53 AM  

Titian was very old when he died, but yes, it was plague. He lost his sons to it earlier, I believe (check that).

Great entry Joy! So much food for stories (pardon the pun...)

Cindy Holby

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Joy Nash

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Emily Bryan

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