Two corpses were found in Bulgaria with an iron rod pinned down through their chests, the remnants of a practice that was thought to keep people from turning into vampires in medieval Europe, according to reports.
The skeletons were excavated near the Black Sea town of Sozopol. Bozhidar Dimitrov, head of the National History Museum in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, told The Associated Press. The corpses were treated this way before being buried in some parts of Bulgaria up until the beginning of the 20th century.
According to the pagan custom, the bodies of people who were considered bad during their lifetimes were pinned down to prevent them from rising from the grave and terrorizing the living, the U.K. Daily Mail reported.
“These people were believed to be evil while they were alive, and it was believed that they would become vampires once they are dead, continuing to torment people,” Dimitrov said.
According to Dimitrov, over 100 buried people whose corpses were stabbed to prevent vampirism have been discovered in Bulgaria in recent years. He said the “vampires” were often aristocrats and clerics and noted that they were all male.
“The curious thing is that there are no women among them,” he said. “They were not afraid of witches.”