Monday, June 18, 2012

'Vampires' add bite to Bulgarian lore

SOFIA - The ancient skeleton of a man, pinned down in his grave to stop him turning into a vampire, was put on show last week in Bulgaria, where vampire tales have kept their bite to this day.

The 700-year-old skeleton - unearthed in the necropolis of a church in the Black Sea town of Sozopol earlier this month - had been stabbed in the chest with an iron rod and had his teeth pulled before being put to rest.
Anti-vampirism rituals were behind the find, archaeologists said, making this potential vampire and another one found at his side an instant media hit.
'These were most probably intellectuals who outgrew the moral ideas of their 14th century... They were feared and buried outside town walls,' said their discoverer, archaeologist Dimitar Nedev.
The national history museum in Sofia displayed one of the skeletons last week as 'strange proof of the beliefs and superstitions of our ancestors', its chief Bozhidar Dimitrov said in a statement.
But, he added, a museum employee kept making the sign of the cross while washing the bones, indicating that vampire fears are still alive today.
Anti-vampirism funeral rites remain strong in modern Bulgaria, ethnologist Rachko Popov said.
Retired teacher Zara Dimitrova, from the village of Novo Selo, described a ritual at her husband's funeral four years ago. 'My sister did this anti-vampirism thing at the grave - prodding the soil with a spindle and chanting something so that the spirit did not turn into a vampire.'