Imagine you’re a grave robber in medieval Europe. While digging for treasure your shovel hits something solid–and you unearth a mass tomb. Expecting to find sparkling gems and jewelry, you’re instead met with the bloody, puffed up face of a corpse that appears to have been feeding on the viscera of hundreds of other festering bodies…and returning to life.
A recent discovery in Bulgaria suggests that 800 years ago villagers suspected of being vampires were killed in droves, eviscerated by steel rods through their hearts. These doomed souls included dissidents, weirdos, heretics, and peasants dying from the plague.
Since knowledge of germ theory and decomposition was not understood then, when mass graves were reopened corpses that appeared to be growing hair, eating shrouds, and dribbling blood from their mouths were assumed to be the undead reanimating.
Hence iron stakes through the heart!
The killings were conducted as vampire exorcisms, with suspected ghouls nailed down to prevent post mortem attacks on the living. One has to suspect these exorcisms were preceded by feverish vampire hunts through the dark, foggy marshes and forests of Eastern Europe.
Begs the question: if you were to find vampires festering underground, what would you do?