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Shroud-eating Vampires!

Joe Holley

So here's a death-related story you don't read every day, courtesy of the Associated Press. (Caution: Don't read this while you're having a meal.)

A well-preserved skeleton of a woman found during an archaeological dig near Venice had a brick stuck between her jaws -- evidence, according to the experts, that she was believed to be a vampire.

The corpse was found in 2006 on Lazzaretto Nuovo island among others buried in a mass grave during a plague epidemic that swept through Venice in 1576. Matteo Borrini, a forensic archaeologist and anthropologist who's been studying the case for the past two years, said the brick was evidence of a vampire exorcism.

Borrini told AP that during epidemics, mass graves were often reopened to bury fresh corpses and if diggers happened to see older bodies that were bloated, with blood seeping out of the mouth and with an inexplicable hole in the shroud over the face, they jumped to the only logical conclusion: VAMPIRE!

"These characteristics are all tied to the decomposition of bodies," Borrini said. "But they saw a fat, dead person, full of blood and with a hole in the shoud, so they would say: 'This guy is alive, he's drinking blood and eating his shroud.'"

To kill the undead creatures, Borrini said, the old stake-in-the-heart method we all know from Vincent Price movies wasn't enough. The diggers had to jam a stone or a brick into the vampire's mouth so it would starve to death.

Presumably, that's what happened to the woman found on Lazzaretto island. About 60, she died of the plague during the epidemic that also claimed the life of the painter Titian.

By Joe Holley  |  April 8, 2009; 2:49 PM ET
Categories:  Joe Holley  
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