Bulgaria’s ‘vampire’ saga continues

After the finding in recent days of “vampire” burials in Sozopol, Bulgaria’s archaeological vampire saga took a new twist with the unearthing of another one.

This time it was near Veliko Turnovo, in a necropolis near the St. Ivan Rilski church and is from a much later period – 18th century CE.

The head of the archaeological dig, Professor Nikolai Ovcharov, told public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio that there was nothing sensational in such findings.

He said that all kinds of rituals protecting the deceased from turning into vampires were widely practiced up until the beginning of the 20th century CE.

“For example the deceased is pierced through the heart, or stones are piled up on top of the body”, Ovcharov said.

“There is a ritual in which embers are placed on the chest of the deceased. Or his feet are tied. Or a fire is lit in the grave before the funeral. Those were folk practices from pagan times and didn’t mean necessarily that the deceased was evil or a vampire. It was simply believed that if the rituals are not carried out, s/he might turn into a vampire.”

Ovcharov said that in the grave in Veliko Turnovo, a purse was found, with about 30 silver coins so the deceased could pay for the passage to the other world and his feet were tied to prevent him from rising from the grave.

Meanwhile, the head of Bulgaria’s National History Museum, Bozhidar Dimitrov, remained stuck into the story of the Sozopol “vampires”, though he admitted that at least 100 similar burials had already been found in Bulgaria.

On June 11, the museum told the media that the “vampires” have arrived in Sofia over the weekend.

“With tight security measures and much to the relief of the old women of Sozopol, the vampire arrived in Sofia,” read the statement, signed by Dimitrov.

According to it, the remains would be examined and will be put on display in the museum within the several next weeks. Several foreign television stations, including the BBC, History Channel and RTV Russia, are said to be already interested in making documentaries about the findings.

“To those who are afraid that the vampires will bring bad fortune to Sofia, we’d like to say that they had been rendered powerless by piercing them with an iron stake and in that sense they’re safer than decommissioned surplus ammunition.”

The “vampire” arrival in Sofia prompted jokes on internet forums and online social networks that sales of garlic and silver would increase severalfold and that visitors to the museum should be given holy water, crosses and stakes for protection.

(Photo illustration: Hristina Dimitrova)



Hristina Dimitrova

Hristina Dimitrova has more than a decade of journalistic experience and is a senior editor at The Sofia Globe; previously she has worked in both online and print media, having started her career at The Sofia Echo.