Dig find in Italy validates origin of vampire myth

24Jul09

So, that’s why they’re called “shroud-eaters”:

Matteo Borrini, an anthropologist from the University of Florence, said the discovery on the small island of Lazzaretto Nuovo in the Venice lagoon supported the medieval belief that vampires were behind the spread of plagues like the Black Death.

“This is the first time that archaeology has succeeded in reconstructing the ritual of exorcism of a vampire,” Mr Borrini said. “This helps … authenticate how the myth of vampires was born.”

According to medieval medical and religious texts, the “undead” were believed to spread pestilence in order to suck the remaining life from corpses until they acquired the strength to return to the streets again.

“To kill the vampire you had to remove the shroud from its mouth, which was its food like the milk of a child, and put something uneatable in there,” said Borrini. “It’s possible that other corpses have been found with bricks in their mouths, but this is the first time the ritual has been recognised.”

Go to Telegraph.co.uk for the brick-in-mouth photo of the remains and why “shroud-eater”?

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