A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Eight-inch iron spikes nail down the identification of a 19th-century vampire burial near Mytilene
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. 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.
This newsbrief first appeared in ARCHAEOLOGY, March/April 1994, p. 22.