Another Vampire Exhumed In Bulgaria

The body of a vampire has been excavated in Bulgaria, the Sofia Globe reports.

Archaeologists excavating at the historic site of Perperikon uncovered the grave of a man weighed down with a ploughshare over his chest. This was a common folk practice to keep a body from rising from its grave as a vampire. The individual was a man aged about 35-40 and he was carrying coins dated to the 13th and 14th century.

The discovery is part of ongoing excavations at Perperikon, an important city in eastern Bulgaria that was occupied from at least 5000 BC through the Middle Ages.

Last year archaeologists found several vampire graves in another part of the country. And these aren’t the first to have been discovered. Usually they have iron stakes or nails through their hearts. Only one other has been found with the ploughshare treatment.

Vampire Skeleton On Display In Bulgaria

Last week we brought you the story that archaeologists had discovered two vampire graves in Bulgaria. Now one of those skeletons, complete with an iron spike through his chest, is going on display at the National History Museum in the Bulgarian capital Sofia.

The medieval skeleton will be revealed to the public this Saturday. No word yet on how long it will be on view.

Museum head Prof. Bozhidar Dimitrov has tentatively identified the skeleton as a man named Krivich, who was both a pirate and the mayor of the town of Sozopol where he was buried. When the Genoese besieged the town in the 14th century, Krivich bungled the defense. The town was sacked.

When Krivich died, he was punished for his failings in life by being staked through the chest. According to folk belief at the time, this kept him from becoming a vampire or ascending to heaven.

Even if you don’t get a chance to see the dead vampire, the museum is well worth a look. Bulgaria has a rich heritage stretching back to earliest times. I visited the museum when I was excavating a Bronze Age village in Bulgaria and found the collection truly impressive.

In addition to many prehistoric artifacts, there are golden treasures from the Thracian period, fine art from the glory days of the medieval Bulgarian Empire and more modern displays showing the struggle to become independent from the Ottoman Empire.

Besides history, Bulgaria offers beautiful trails in the Balkan Mountains, beaches along the Black Sea and very cool people. It’s a country worth visiting.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Vampire Graves Dug Up In Bulgaria

Bulgarian archaeologists have discovered two vampire graves in the city of Sozopol on the Black Sea. The burials, which are about 700 years old, were each held down with a massive iron stake through the chest. One vampire was buried in the apse of a church – a spot usually reserved for aristocrats – and showed evidence of multiple stab wounds.

Bozhidar Dimitrov, head of the Bulgarian National Museum of History, says more than a hundred vampire graves have been found in Bulgaria. He says that most suspected vampires were aristocrats or clergy. Interestingly, none were women.

One possible explanation for the vampire myth comes from anthropologist Paul Barber in his book “Vampires, Burial, and Death.” He posits the vampire legend started because people didn’t know how bodies decomposed. Rigor mortis is only temporary. After a few days the muscles ease up and expanding gases in the body will actually shift it within the coffin. Blood seeps out of the mouth and the face and belly get a flushed and puffy look. So. . .a guy dies, they bury him, and shortly thereafter several more people die. The villagers decide the first guy is a vampire, and when they open up his grave they find he’s moved, looks fat and flush with life, and has bloody teeth. When you drive a stake through a body filled with corpse gas it lets out a shriek.

There are several good vampire attractions in Europe, such as Dracula’s Castle in Romania, the Vampire Museum in Paris and Highgate Cemetery in London, scene of a wave of vampire sightings in the 1970s.

Vampires have long captured the imagination. Vampire stories were popular in the nineteenth century and some of the best early horror films are vampire tales. “Nosferatu” (1922), a still of which is shown here in the Wikimedia Commons image, sticks close to the Bram Stoker novel. A different take can be found in the film “Vampyr” (1932). Both monsters are spooky, kick-ass killers, not the angsty pretty-boy teens of today’s vampire craze. As Bart Simpson once said, “Girls ruin everything, even vampires!”

Top 10 travel destinations for Twilight fans

New Moon, the second installment of the Twilight saga, will be hitting theaters on November 20th.

That’s like, just over a month until we get to see Edward in all his sparkly, “dazzling” glory! Plus Jacob, shirtless and “fur-sploding” into his werewolf form! O-M-Geeeeee!!

Okay, now that I’ve let the 13-year old girl in me have her say. . . To satiate your thirst for teen vampire angst until the movie’s premiere, why not take a trip to one of these destinations perfect for the Twilight-obsessed?

Forks, Washington
Forks is where the love story of Edward and Bella began, and where most of the action in the four Twilight books takes place. Stephanie Meyer chose the small town for the setting of her book because days here are usually cloudy, making it the perfect place for a clan of vampires (who sparkle in the sun) to settle. The tiny Welcome Center now offers maps of Twilight landmarks and “Dazzled by Twilight’, a store devoted entirely to the saga, offers tours to surrounding locations from the books (or at least, sites that resemble places in the books – “Bella’s house” isn’t actually the house used in the movie). A few local inns, including the Dew Drop Inn and the Pacific Inn Motel, have designed Twilight-themed rooms, and are of course, charging a premium for them.

Port Angeles, Washington
Port Angeles was a resort town even before Twilight put it on the radar of teenage girls, but now it proudly boasts its role in the story. There are several tours that show visitors to the Twilight landmarks around town, including Odyssey Books and Bella Italia, the restaurant where Bella and Edward had their first date after Edward rescued Bella from some unsavory characters in an alley. Guests who dine at Bella Italia can even order “Bella’s mushroom ravioli” and eat the same dish Bella did on her date. There’s no Edward dish; he of course didn’t eat.

Portland, Oregon
No part of the story takes place in Portland, but many of the movie’s scenes were filmed here. Go See Portland has put together a handy map of filming locations. The scene where Edward saves Bella in the alley took place in Port Angeles, but was actually filmed in Portland. You can visit that alley and see the store (really a hair salon) where Bella’s friends tried on prom dresses on this self-guided tour. The owner still has Catherine Hardwick’s director’s chair sitting in a corner of the shop. Chief Swan’s house is located in Portland, the hilltop location of the prom was The Viewpoint Inn in Corbett, and the beach that stands in for La Push in some scenes was actually Cannon Beach on Oregon’s coast.

Vancouver, Canada
While many of Twilight’s scenes were shot in and around Portland, much of New Moon’s filming was done in Vancouver. On Location Tours will take fans to not only the spots where scenes were shot, but also to favorite hangouts of the cast and crew. The 6-hour tours cost $119 for kids and $149 for adults. One of the main locations used in Vancouver was the David Thompson Secondary School, which stood in for Forks High School, and some of the woodland scenes were shot around Tofino.

Hoh Rainforest, Washington
Several scenes in the Twilight saga take place in the Hoh rainforest in Washington. It’s one of the few temperate rainforests in the US and one of the largest in the world. It’s densely populated with towering moss-covered trees, many of which are thousands of years old. It has become a very popular destination for those seeking the Twilight experience, but it is still large enough that you can find a place to escape the crowds. There are campgrounds in the Rainforest and hiking trails where you can spot birds and wildlife.

Quileute Reservation, Washington
The Quileute tribe of Native Americans have lived on the land that is now Washington state for thousands of years. Members of the tribe still reside on the reservation and control the town and beach of La Push and its harbor. The area is known for its whale watching, surfing, fishing, and beautiful, rugged beaches. Twilight’s beach scenes, including the one in which Jacob tells Bella about the ancient “cold ones”, take place on First Beach at La Push. The Quileute tribe operates a beach resort at La Push where cabin rentals start at $100 per night. The resort also runs a waterfront Twilight tour.

Syracuse, Utah
Syracuse has absolutely nothing to do with the Twilight books or movies, but it does have two corn mazes that depict the saga’s two hunks, Edward and Jacob. If you can’t make it to any of these other locations to immerse yourself in scenes from the movies or books, you can at least wander around in a big field of corn cut to look like a vampire or a werewolf.

Volterra, Italy
In the New Moon book, Bella tracks Edward to Volterra, Italy, where he is about to reveal himself to the Volturri, a clan of ancient vampires. Volterra is a real town in Italy, located in the Tuscany region with massive walls that surround the medieval town. The town has capitalized on its Twilight fame, offering Twilight-themed tours to the obsessed.

Montepulciano, Italy
The movie didn’t shoot in Volterra, but in nearby Montepulciano. If you want to see the fountain that Bella runs across to stop Edward before he steps into the sun in all his sparkly glory, you’re out of luck. The town square in Montepulciano does not have a fountain, one was constructed specifically for the movie shoot. But you can see other locations from the filming when you book the “New Moon” package at The Albergo Dumo, located right near the town square.

Los Angeles, California
Unless you get extremely lucky, your chances of getting into the New Moon premiere on November 16th are very slim. But you can still camp out at the Village Theatre and Bruin Theatre in Los Angeles in the hopes that you’ll catch a glimpse of your favorite supernatural being. Or you could stalk R-Patz and try to casually bump into him at an after-party in LA.

Catching bats in Costa Rica

The photo on the right is of my hand–and more interestingly, of a bona-fide vampire bat. I’m sure our resident health-blogger Erik’s head just exploded right about now.

Handling bats, let alone vampire bats, are a huge no-no since they are one of the animals most likely to carry rabies. By no means was I even close to being a badass here; before going to Costa Rica to catch bats, I put down $500 for a series of rabies vaccines and oh, wore two pairs of leather gloves to handle this particular bat.

Catching bats was an unbelievable experience–honestly, how many people in the world have had the chance to do that? It also really made me appreciate an animal that’s gotten a really bad rap. Anyways, below is a gallery of my two-week bat-catching trip to Costa Rica.