Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Vampire of the Greek Island of Lesvos

Rusted iron spikes pierce the neck, pelvis, and ankle of this skeleton, found in a Turkish cemetery on the Greek island of Lesbos (Hector Williams)

Eight-inch iron spikes nail down the identification of a 19th-century vampire burial near Mytilene.

By Hector Williams

The well-preserved skeleton of a middle-aged man, nailed to his coffin with eight-inch iron spikes, has been found in a 19th-century Turkish cemetery near the north harbor of Mytilene, the principal city of the Greek island of Lesbos (or Lesvos). Researchers from the University of British Columbia and the Tenth Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities discovered the skeleton in a stone-lined crypt hollowed out of an ancient city wall. They had been excavating on a government owned plot in a study of Mytilenean archaeology. The man had been nailed through his neck, pelvis, and ankle. According to 18th- and 19th-century travelers, suspected vampires were nailed to their caskets to keep them from rising from the dead. That a Moslem would be buried this way is of particular interest since such burials were predominantly a Christian practice.

Source: This news brief first appeared in ARCHAEOLOGY, March/April 1994, p. 22.