1. Vampire Graves
Italy in 2006, The Czech Republic in 2008, Bulgaria in 2012, almost every year, new ‘vampire’ burial grounds are being unearthed. In the town of Gliwice, Poland, archeologists discovered four decapitated skeletons dating back to the 16th Century. Their severed skulls placed between their legs to ensure the dead stayed dead.
On the Greek island of Lesbos, a male specimen was found in the ground with 8-inch iron spikes staked through its neck, pelvis and ankle. And graves in Ireland and Italy feature skulls with huge rocks crushed into their mouth to prevent their former owners from feeding.
Of course, those who died might not have been vampires at all. Tuberculosis, after all, was known to cause weight loss and a pale color. Then again, Europeans thought that it was the vampires themselves who spread the sickness. Better safe than sorry.
2. Fountain of Youth
The secret to a longer life may indeed lie in the blood of others. According to 3 recent studies in mice, a blood transfusion in older subjects can improve memory, strength and sense of smell, if you collect the blood from a younger host. The research points to a particular protein present in the blood of young mice GDF11, as being partly responsible.
Far from creating a world of vampires, the scientists hope to apply their findings to treat age-related conditions like Alzheimer’s.
3. The Real Dracula
|Vlad the Impaler|
Dracula might seem like fiction, but his character is based on a real person whose name inspired even greater fear. Vlad III, or as we know him, Vlad the Impaler, was initiated into the Order of the Dragon, a Christian military organization and thereby granted his father’s surname, Dracul, meaning dragon.
Born in Transylvania, Vlad III murdered upward of 100.000 people in his life, burning some alive, but impaling most on sharp stakes. Vlad was known for inviting guests over to feast, only to then impale them, dipping his bread into the fresh blood.
Though modern culture portrays Dracula as being vulnerable to items of Christianity, like the burning of his skin by a cross, history shows that this first vampire was considered a warrior for his Christian faith. It was the Turks who eventually killed him, their Sultan displaying Vlad’s impaled head outside his palace. As for Vlad’s body, nothing is known for sure. Some say his body was never found, while others claim it disappeared into thin air.
4. Elizabeth Bathory
|Elizabeth Bathory of Hungary|
Every Superman needs his Wonder Woman, and this woman is a wonder all to herself, the vampiric equal or perhaps superior of Vlad the Impaler, Countess Elizabeth Bathory of Hungary. Elizabeth Bathory abducted numerous young girls, many of whom were offered jobs as servants.
For years, Bathory beat girls to death, burned and mutilated their bodies, and even left them to slowly freeze to death in the winter cold. Bathory believed the blood of youth would stave off old-age, and so she would bathe in the blood of her victims.
Locals often heard screams coming from her castle, and it was only in 1609 that soldiers were sent to investigate. What they found is said to have been too horrific to be recorded, but when Bathory was put on trial, over 300 witnesses provided testimony leading to Bathory’s imprisonment, where she should would eventually die. The horror of Bathory’s life and a history of evidence has led many to this simple truth – vampires are real.
From Buffy to Anne Rice and Twilight to True Blood, the demonic features of vampires have been portrayed in a myriad of forms. Only it’s not just imagination. It’s real.
Porphyria is an inherited disorder that causes an accumulation of red and purple pigments in the body, disfiguring the skin, body and face. The disorder has also been known to cause mental disturbance, including mania, which could lead to strange or violent behavior. King George III of England is among the most famous sufferers. Porphyria caused him to have fits and hallucinations so much so that he was named the “mad king”.
Today, many social scientists and doctors credit Porphyria as a major influence in creating the folklore concerning vampires.
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