Sokopol, Bulgaria, could soon join the ranks of popular vampire sites, such as Dracula's Castle in Romania and the Vampire Museum in Paris. Archaeologists excavated two suspected "vampire" graves in the Black Sea town last Sunday, and each 700-year-old skeleton had an iron rod pinned into its chest.
Bozhidar Dimitrov, the director of the National Museum of History in Sofia, told local media that this was common practice in the Middle Ages, as people feared "bad men" would raise from the dead as vampires. The museum is planning a special exhibit around the two skeletons.
"Every few years we hear of the latest archaeological find, and its attribution to vampire-lore," said a 33-year-old vampire researcher and the current administrator of Voices of the Vampire Community who goes by the name Merticus.
According to the Associated Press, Dimitrov said he did not understand why an "ordinary discovery" like this one became so popular. "Perhaps because of the mysteriousness of the word 'vampire'," he said.
Most of the vampire folklore originated in Slavic countries, so there is a higher prevalence of burial instances in that region.
"Having such a wide assortment of physical records is invaluable to researchers and enthusiasts," said Merticus. "The Bulgarian and Italian burial claims in the past couple of years add to the mystery and lure of the vampire across all cultures, even for real vampires.
"Real vampires," Merticus explains, "believe they must consume the blood of other living humans by consensual means in order to maintain their well-being."
But rather than worrying about iron stakes through the heart, or being hunted at local hangouts, modern vampires say it's time to stop focusing on folklore.
"While exhibits are fascinating, I would like to see more responsible scientific interpretation and less knee-jerk 'put a vampire on it' claim, even if the Bulgarian burials are in fact directly linked to vampire lore. As a society we are rapidly approaching vampire overload - on all fronts."
- Bozhidar Dimitrov