'Vampire' skeleton going on display in Bulgaria

A 700-year-old skeleton, unearthed in the necropol of a church in the Black Sea town of Sozopol earlier in June, was stabbed in the chest with an iron rod and had his teeth pulled before being put to rest. Another, similar skeleton, was found on Sept. 4, 2013, near Sofia.

Bulgaria's history museum will put a "vampire" skeleton on display next week after unearthing the 700-year-old remains of two men stabbed through the chest with iron rods earlier this month.

Archaeologists discovered the skeletons while excavating a monastery near the Black Sea city of Sozopol. They were buried in a pagan ritual aimed at keeping the men from turning into vampires, archaeologists told Reuters.

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Bozhidar Dimitrov, the director of the National History Museum in Sofia, told The Associated Press he expects a big turnout.

The discoveries have been the talk of the Black Sea resort city, and some people have even had trouble sleeping at night because vampire tales remain so popular in Balkan countries such as Bulgaria, Dimitrov told the AP.

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As recently as the beginning of the last century, widespread superstition led to iron rods being hammered through the chest bones and hearts of those who did evil during their lifetimes, The Huffington Post noted, for fear they would return from the grave to feast on the blood of the living.

People believed the rod would pin the dead into their graves to prevent them from leaving at midnight, Dimitrov said.

"This was a pagan belief widespread in the Bulgarian lands in the 12th to 14th centuries. People were very superstitious then," he told Reuters. "Throughout the country we have found over 100 such 'vampire' burials of mainly noblemen from the Middle Ages who were branded bloodsucking immortals."