The oldest remains of a person accused of being a vampire have been found outside Venice, buried in a mass grave of plague victims.
Between 1630 and 1631, the plague killed one third of Venice's population, wiping out 50,000 people out of a population of 150,000 in just one year. The panicked population, trying to stop the disease from spreading, often blamed female "vampires" for infecting the living. It was believed that people who chewed or bit their shrouds might be vampires (a dead body might appear to be chewing its shroud if it had post-mortem motor movements, which is fairly common; or bloody fluid released from the mouth after death might make it seem as if the shroud had been soiled by vampire nastiness).
To stop these "vampires," grave diggers would sort through bodies in mass graves and try to find ones who had bitten their shrouds and then shove a brick in their mouths to stop the threat. Yesterday researchers on an island near Venice announced they'd excavated a mass grave and found possibly the earliest example on record of a "vampire" who'd been buried with a brick in her mouth.
via The Hindu
Photo via Matteo Borrini and National Geographic