LiveScience: Medieval 'Vampire' Skull Found---
The remains of a medieval "vampire" have been discovered among the corpses of 16th century plague victims in Venice, according to an Italian archaeologist who led the dig.Right. As we Twilight fans know, the city really overrun with Vampires is Volterra (go read New Moon (The Twilight Saga, Book 2) if you don't understand.).
The body of the woman was found in a mass grave on the Venetian island of Lazzaretto Nuovo. Suspecting that she might be a vampire, a common folk belief at the time, gravediggers shoved a rock into her skull to prevent her from chewing through her shroud and infecting others with the plague, said anthropologist Matteo Borrini of the University of Florence.
In the absence of medical science, vampires were just one of many possible contemporary explanations for the spread of the Venetian plague in 1576, which ran rampant through the city and ultimately killed up to 50,000 people, some officials estimate.
Italy's famous canal city wasn't really overrun with medieval Draculas, however.
And the gross probable explanation:
A phenomenon that occurs early on in the process of decomposition - abdominal bloating - is what likely concerned the Venetian gravediggers, Borrini said. When humans die, the body releases a myriad of bacterial gases that cause a corpse to bloat with fluid, usually just a few days after death in the absence of any kind of preservation or protection from coffins.It is quite an fascinating article!
"During this phase, the decay of the gastrointestinal tract contents and lining create a dark fluid called 'purge fluid'; it can flow freely from the nose and mouth...and it could easily be confused with the blood sucked by the vampire," said Borrini.
If the "vampire" woman was emitting blood from her mouth, the fluid likely moistened her burial shroud causing it to sink into her jaw cavity and be dissolved by the fluids, Borrini said, making it appear as though she was trying to bite through her shroud. When discovered in that state, a stone was jammed into her mouth as a kind of exorcism to prevent her from potentially spreading the disease further, the researchers think.
Medieval skeletons have been found in a similar state in other parts of Europe, Borrini said.