I'm a PhD student researching the role of mortuary archaeology in contemporary British society. Think of this as a scrapbook of all the interesting links, snippets of information and random bits and bobs I come across pertaining to death, dying and the dead. Enjoy?!


Halloween first began as ‘All Hallow’s Eve’, a festival to celebrate the eve of the solemn Saint’s Day in Christianity. It is also connected with harvest festivals and festivals of the dead, either Samhain or Parentalia. It is a time when the doors of the otherworld are opened to the deceased for them to visit their homes and families. Feasts are held in their honor, and they were gathered from the houses of neighbors. As it became a Christian holiday, cakes were collected from houses to placate the dead and tricks were played on the houses that didn’t. Slowly they began to dress like the ghosts and spirits that haunted that day. Now its become a day of horror, spooky costumes and  collecting candy from your neighborhood. While most horror stories are simply folklore that has been passed down through the ages or fiction invented by creative minds, there are some archaeological truths to them. This Halloween, shock your friends and family with this knowledge of ‘true’ horrors and monsters.

Check out the full post from Bones Don’t Lie here!

Halloween first began as ‘All Hallow’s Eve’, a festival to celebrate the eve of the solemn Saint’s Day in Christianity. It is also connected with harvest festivals and festivals of the dead, either Samhain or Parentalia. It is a time when the doors of the otherworld are opened to the deceased for them to visit their homes and families. Feasts are held in their honor, and they were gathered from the houses of neighbors. As it became a Christian holiday, cakes were collected from houses to placate the dead and tricks were played on the houses that didn’t. Slowly they began to dress like the ghosts and spirits that haunted that day. Now its become a day of horror, spooky costumes and  collecting candy from your neighborhood. While most horror stories are simply folklore that has been passed down through the ages or fiction invented by creative minds, there are some archaeological truths to them. This Halloween, shock your friends and family with this knowledge of ‘true’ horrors and monsters.

Check out the full post from Bones Don’t Lie here!

Halloween first began as ‘All Hallow’s Eve’, a festival to celebrate the eve of the solemn Saint’s Day in Christianity. It is also connected with harvest festivals and festivals of the dead, either Samhain or Parentalia. It is a time when the doors of the otherworld are opened to the deceased for them to visit their homes and families. Feasts are held in their honor, and they were gathered from the houses of neighbors. As it became a Christian holiday, cakes were collected from houses to placate the dead and tricks were played on the houses that didn’t. Slowly they began to dress like the ghosts and spirits that haunted that day. Now its become a day of horror, spooky costumes and  collecting candy from your neighborhood. While most horror stories are simply folklore that has been passed down through the ages or fiction invented by creative minds, there are some archaeological truths to them. This Halloween, shock your friends and family with this knowledge of ‘true’ horrors and monsters.

Check out the full post from Bones Don’t Lie here!


A vampire slaying kit – inspired by 19th century folklore and fiction – has been bought at auction by the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.
The fascinating kit comprises a mahogany casket, packed with everything a vampire hunter might need – including a pistol, crucifix, rosary beads, a bottle labelled holy water and even a mallet, plus four wooden stakes.
The Royal Armouries secured the unusual lot at auction, organised by Tennants Auctioneers in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, after the box was left to a local woman in her uncle’s will.
It was probably compiled in the late 20th Century following the success of the Hammer Horror Movies and inspired by Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula.
Royal Armouries Curator of Firearms, Jonathan Ferguson, said, These kits are often said to have been made as novelties in the Victorian period, but research shows they are later than this. We’ve yet to establish a firm date for our kit, but we know it will attract a lot of interest from our museum visitors.
The mahogany box is split into two tiers. The top layer contains a percussion cap pistol with an octagonal barrel – for firing silver bullets. The lid holds a crucifix and rosary beads, to ward off ‘evil spirits’.
Other compartments contain three glass bottles, two of which are labelled holy water and another holy earth. As a ‘last resort’, there’s a mallet and four wooden stakes, plus A Book of Common Prayer, dated 1857.
A handwritten extract from the Bible, quoting Luke 19:27, reads, “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”
The kit will go on public display at the Clarence Dock museum – hopefully in time for Halloween 2012.

WANT!

A vampire slaying kit – inspired by 19th century folklore and fiction – has been bought at auction by the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.
The fascinating kit comprises a mahogany casket, packed with everything a vampire hunter might need – including a pistol, crucifix, rosary beads, a bottle labelled holy water and even a mallet, plus four wooden stakes.
The Royal Armouries secured the unusual lot at auction, organised by Tennants Auctioneers in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, after the box was left to a local woman in her uncle’s will.
It was probably compiled in the late 20th Century following the success of the Hammer Horror Movies and inspired by Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula.
Royal Armouries Curator of Firearms, Jonathan Ferguson, said, These kits are often said to have been made as novelties in the Victorian period, but research shows they are later than this. We’ve yet to establish a firm date for our kit, but we know it will attract a lot of interest from our museum visitors.
The mahogany box is split into two tiers. The top layer contains a percussion cap pistol with an octagonal barrel – for firing silver bullets. The lid holds a crucifix and rosary beads, to ward off ‘evil spirits’.
Other compartments contain three glass bottles, two of which are labelled holy water and another holy earth. As a ‘last resort’, there’s a mallet and four wooden stakes, plus A Book of Common Prayer, dated 1857.
A handwritten extract from the Bible, quoting Luke 19:27, reads, “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”
The kit will go on public display at the Clarence Dock museum – hopefully in time for Halloween 2012.

WANT!

vampire slaying kit – inspired by 19th century folklore and fiction – has been bought at auction by the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.

The fascinating kit comprises a mahogany casket, packed with everything a vampire hunter might need – including a pistol, crucifix, rosary beads, a bottle labelled holy water and even a mallet, plus four wooden stakes.

The Royal Armouries secured the unusual lot at auction, organised by Tennants Auctioneers in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, after the box was left to a local woman in her uncle’s will.

It was probably compiled in the late 20th Century following the success of the Hammer Horror Movies and inspired by Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula.

Royal Armouries Curator of Firearms, Jonathan Ferguson, said, These kits are often said to have been made as novelties in the Victorian period, but research shows they are later than this. We’ve yet to establish a firm date for our kit, but we know it will attract a lot of interest from our museum visitors.

The mahogany box is split into two tiers. The top layer contains a percussion cap pistol with an octagonal barrel – for firing silver bullets. The lid holds a crucifix and rosary beads, to ward off ‘evil spirits’.

Other compartments contain three glass bottles, two of which are labelled holy water and another holy earth. As a ‘last resort’, there’s a mallet and four wooden stakes, plus A Book of Common Prayer, dated 1857.

A handwritten extract from the Bible, quoting Luke 19:27, reads, “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”

The kit will go on public display at the Clarence Dock museum – hopefully in time for Halloween 2012.

WANT!


Vampire beliefs still have bite
The recently discovered ‘vampire’ skeletons in Bulgaria may be centuries old but some blood-sucking superstitions refuse to die

The unearthed skeleton, pinned down through the chest with iron rod, in an excavation site in Sozopol, Bulgaria. Photograph: National History Museum of Bulgaria/HO/EPA




Last weekend, Bulgarian archaeologists working near the Black Sea town of Sozopol unearthed centuries-old skeletons pinned down through their chests with iron rods. Interestingly, this technique was evidently used to “stop the dead from becoming vampires”: people who had been “unusual” in life (alcoholics, criminals and assorted outsiders) were automatically suspect, even before any vampiric assaults had actually occurred. The Bulgarian finds were mere youngsters by comparison with the deviant burials unearthed in Mikulovice, in the Czech Republic, a few years ago. There, the bodies weighted down with rocks were thought to be around 5,000 years old.
In the age of modern “vampotainment” – with Johnny Depp recently offering yet another vampire who many women (and men) would die for – we might forget that vampires were not invented for fun. For most of history, vampirism was the subject of mind-shattering terror. During a vampire outbreak, everyone would routinely flee their houses and sleep together in one building. Meanwhile, there was the question of those who fell into a coma. In Greece, one family was so terrified that their comatose daughter risked becoming undead that they buried her alive, against the desperate pleas of the local doctor (secretly, he opened up her grave that night, only to have her die in his arms). In the same country, another luckless man woke from a coma at his own funeral, in his open coffin. Sadly, this was no cause for celebration. Traumatised by this vampiric being, the villagers stoned him to death.

Oh, I do love a good vampire skeleton news story! Click through to read the rest of the article.

Vampire beliefs still have bite
The recently discovered ‘vampire’ skeletons in Bulgaria may be centuries old but some blood-sucking superstitions refuse to die

The unearthed skeleton, pinned down through the chest with iron rod, in an excavation site in Sozopol, Bulgaria. Photograph: National History Museum of Bulgaria/HO/EPA




Last weekend, Bulgarian archaeologists working near the Black Sea town of Sozopol unearthed centuries-old skeletons pinned down through their chests with iron rods. Interestingly, this technique was evidently used to “stop the dead from becoming vampires”: people who had been “unusual” in life (alcoholics, criminals and assorted outsiders) were automatically suspect, even before any vampiric assaults had actually occurred. The Bulgarian finds were mere youngsters by comparison with the deviant burials unearthed in Mikulovice, in the Czech Republic, a few years ago. There, the bodies weighted down with rocks were thought to be around 5,000 years old.
In the age of modern “vampotainment” – with Johnny Depp recently offering yet another vampire who many women (and men) would die for – we might forget that vampires were not invented for fun. For most of history, vampirism was the subject of mind-shattering terror. During a vampire outbreak, everyone would routinely flee their houses and sleep together in one building. Meanwhile, there was the question of those who fell into a coma. In Greece, one family was so terrified that their comatose daughter risked becoming undead that they buried her alive, against the desperate pleas of the local doctor (secretly, he opened up her grave that night, only to have her die in his arms). In the same country, another luckless man woke from a coma at his own funeral, in his open coffin. Sadly, this was no cause for celebration. Traumatised by this vampiric being, the villagers stoned him to death.

Oh, I do love a good vampire skeleton news story! Click through to read the rest of the article.

Vampire beliefs still have bite

The recently discovered ‘vampire’ skeletons in Bulgaria may be centuries old but some blood-sucking superstitions refuse to die

The unearthed skeleton, pinned down through the chest with iron rod, in an excavation site in Sozopol, Bulgaria. Photograph: National History Museum of Bulgaria/HO/EPA

Last weekend, Bulgarian archaeologists working near the Black Sea town of Sozopol unearthed centuries-old skeletons pinned down through their chests with iron rods. Interestingly, this technique was evidently used to “stop the dead from becoming vampires”: people who had been “unusual” in life (alcoholics, criminals and assorted outsiders) were automatically suspect, even before any vampiric assaults had actually occurred. The Bulgarian finds were mere youngsters by comparison with the deviant burials unearthed in Mikulovice, in the Czech Republic, a few years ago. There, the bodies weighted down with rocks were thought to be around 5,000 years old.

In the age of modern “vampotainment” – with Johnny Depp recently offering yet another vampire who many women (and men) would die for – we might forget that vampires were not invented for fun. For most of history, vampirism was the subject of mind-shattering terror. During a vampire outbreak, everyone would routinely flee their houses and sleep together in one building. Meanwhile, there was the question of those who fell into a coma. In Greece, one family was so terrified that their comatose daughter risked becoming undead that they buried her alive, against the desperate pleas of the local doctor (secretly, he opened up her grave that night, only to have her die in his arms). In the same country, another luckless man woke from a coma at his own funeral, in his open coffin. Sadly, this was no cause for celebration. Traumatised by this vampiric being, the villagers stoned him to death.

Oh, I do love a good vampire skeleton news story! Click through to read the rest of the article.


The Vampire Museum
The Musée des Vampires is a small private museum (near the Mairie des Lilas) dedicated to vampires and the study of their place in folklore and modern culture. Located just on the outer edge of Paris, it can be a bit complicated to visit for non-French speakers, but it’s totally do-able and absolutely worth the effort if you’re a fan of vampires, mythology, and weird stuff in general!
When I was initially researching the museum, all of the sources I found online, most of which are in French only, mention that the museum is open daily from 12:30pm to 8pm, but some sites don’t make it perfectly clear that you must have an appointment to visit.
Making an appointment is little complicated if you don’t speak French, as the main phone number listed (01 43 62 80 76) just gives you a recorded message in French. This message lists the hours and also gives a cell phone number — 06 20 12 28 32 — which you can call to make an appointment. The museum’s curator, a wonderful, captivating fellow named Jacques Sirgent, speaks impeccable English. So if youdon’t speak French, try calling the cell number and very politely asking, “Parlez vous anglais, s’il vous plait?” and I’m sure Monsieur Sirgent will be happy to help you.
The collection: You enter the museum through a small courtyard at the back of a private residence. The main room that was open to the public when I was there was a crowded, cluttered, and absolutely fascinating collection of every type of vampire-related item you can imagine: stacks and stacks (and stacks) of books, dozens of paintings and movie posters lining the walls, spooky fine art objects, Halloween-esque props, et cetera, et cetera — even a mummified cat found in Père Lachaise Cemetery! The room is relatively small but I could’ve spent all day in there inspecting these treasures. One highlight I found very impressive: the autographs of every actor who’s ever starred as Dracula in a Hollywood movie!
After briefly being shown around the place by Monsieur Sirgent, we sat down for a long chat about the history of vampires, their folkloric origins, and their place in French history and the modern human psyche. Monsieur Sirgent, or Jacques as he told us to call him, has written several books on the topic, and very clearly is an expert on all things vampiric. Beforehand, I was a little concerned we’d find the museum’s director to be sort of overly goth or flaky or downright crazy, but I’m pleased to report Jacques is actually almost startlingly down to earth, and completely, well, normal! I made a joke about having worried that he’d be a serial killer, and he laughed and immediately pointed out a painting on a wall and told me it had been painted by famous French murderer Nicolas Claux, “le Vampire de Paris,” with whom Jacques is acquainted. Wow.

Via Cool Stuff in Paris, click the photo to read more!

The Vampire Museum
The Musée des Vampires is a small private museum (near the Mairie des Lilas) dedicated to vampires and the study of their place in folklore and modern culture. Located just on the outer edge of Paris, it can be a bit complicated to visit for non-French speakers, but it’s totally do-able and absolutely worth the effort if you’re a fan of vampires, mythology, and weird stuff in general!
When I was initially researching the museum, all of the sources I found online, most of which are in French only, mention that the museum is open daily from 12:30pm to 8pm, but some sites don’t make it perfectly clear that you must have an appointment to visit.
Making an appointment is little complicated if you don’t speak French, as the main phone number listed (01 43 62 80 76) just gives you a recorded message in French. This message lists the hours and also gives a cell phone number — 06 20 12 28 32 — which you can call to make an appointment. The museum’s curator, a wonderful, captivating fellow named Jacques Sirgent, speaks impeccable English. So if youdon’t speak French, try calling the cell number and very politely asking, “Parlez vous anglais, s’il vous plait?” and I’m sure Monsieur Sirgent will be happy to help you.
The collection: You enter the museum through a small courtyard at the back of a private residence. The main room that was open to the public when I was there was a crowded, cluttered, and absolutely fascinating collection of every type of vampire-related item you can imagine: stacks and stacks (and stacks) of books, dozens of paintings and movie posters lining the walls, spooky fine art objects, Halloween-esque props, et cetera, et cetera — even a mummified cat found in Père Lachaise Cemetery! The room is relatively small but I could’ve spent all day in there inspecting these treasures. One highlight I found very impressive: the autographs of every actor who’s ever starred as Dracula in a Hollywood movie!
After briefly being shown around the place by Monsieur Sirgent, we sat down for a long chat about the history of vampires, their folkloric origins, and their place in French history and the modern human psyche. Monsieur Sirgent, or Jacques as he told us to call him, has written several books on the topic, and very clearly is an expert on all things vampiric. Beforehand, I was a little concerned we’d find the museum’s director to be sort of overly goth or flaky or downright crazy, but I’m pleased to report Jacques is actually almost startlingly down to earth, and completely, well, normal! I made a joke about having worried that he’d be a serial killer, and he laughed and immediately pointed out a painting on a wall and told me it had been painted by famous French murderer Nicolas Claux, “le Vampire de Paris,” with whom Jacques is acquainted. Wow.

Via Cool Stuff in Paris, click the photo to read more!

The Vampire Museum

The Musée des Vampires is a small private museum (near the Mairie des Lilas) dedicated to vampires and the study of their place in folklore and modern culture. Located just on the outer edge of Paris, it can be a bit complicated to visit for non-French speakers, but it’s totally do-able and absolutely worth the effort if you’re a fan of vampires, mythology, and weird stuff in general!

When I was initially researching the museum, all of the sources I found online, most of which are in French only, mention that the museum is open daily from 12:30pm to 8pm, but some sites don’t make it perfectly clear that you must have an appointment to visit.

Making an appointment is little complicated if you don’t speak French, as the main phone number listed (01 43 62 80 76) just gives you a recorded message in French. This message lists the hours and also gives a cell phone number — 06 20 12 28 32 — which you can call to make an appointment. The museum’s curator, a wonderful, captivating fellow named Jacques Sirgent, speaks impeccable English. So if youdon’t speak French, try calling the cell number and very politely asking, “Parlez vous anglais, s’il vous plait?” and I’m sure Monsieur Sirgent will be happy to help you.

The collection: You enter the museum through a small courtyard at the back of a private residence. The main room that was open to the public when I was there was a crowded, cluttered, and absolutely fascinating collection of every type of vampire-related item you can imagine: stacks and stacks (and stacks) of books, dozens of paintings and movie posters lining the walls, spooky fine art objects, Halloween-esque props, et cetera, et cetera — even a mummified cat found in Père Lachaise Cemetery! The room is relatively small but I could’ve spent all day in there inspecting these treasures. One highlight I found very impressive: the autographs of every actor who’s ever starred as Dracula in a Hollywood movie!

After briefly being shown around the place by Monsieur Sirgent, we sat down for a long chat about the history of vampires, their folkloric origins, and their place in French history and the modern human psyche. Monsieur Sirgent, or Jacques as he told us to call him, has written several books on the topic, and very clearly is an expert on all things vampiric. Beforehand, I was a little concerned we’d find the museum’s director to be sort of overly goth or flaky or downright crazy, but I’m pleased to report Jacques is actually almost startlingly down to earth, and completely, well, normal! I made a joke about having worried that he’d be a serial killer, and he laughed and immediately pointed out a painting on a wall and told me it had been painted by famous French murderer Nicolas Claux, “le Vampire de Paris,” with whom Jacques is acquainted. Wow.

Via Cool Stuff in Paris, click the photo to read more!


Zombie, vampire or saint?
A grave disturbed, the coffin opened, and the body of a young girl, years dead, freakishly un-decomposed: Undead monster or miracle of faith? It depends on who’s asking. 
Under other circumstances, being discovered in a state of less than natural rot can be bad news for a corpse. In Germany and Italy such undecayed dead were considered highly suspect and likely to be named vampire and have a brick crammed in their undead mouth.
But the rules are different for potential saints. Where some see evidence of the rampaging undead, and others might see a really just slightly-less-than-funky corpse, the right people saw what has been come to be called “incorruptibility” - which is a good thing if you want to be saint. It’s also a good thing if you are a local church that would like to lure visitors by displaying a dead lady in a box for a few hundred years.
First class relics, or bodies and parts of bodies of saints, have long been among the Catholic church’s most revered artifacts, and these “Incorruptibles” are the best one might ask for, in terms of attracting the curious masses into your church. The mysteriously preserved body of a the particularly pious were seen as an indication of potential saintliness, their exhumed bodies expected to give off a sweet odor known as the “Odor of Sanctity”. This alone was not reason for canonization, but it was a step in the right direction. 
There are in reality, many reasons a corpse might not decay at a normal rate. In cases of a cold and humid environment, a process known as adipocere can transform the body’s fat into a waxy substance resistant to decay. Bodies buried in lime can become saponified, transforming that fat into something akin to soap. And finally, a dry environment can of course naturally produce the kind of mummies our favorite Wild West museums have propped up in corners.
Whatever the cause, there are LOTS of dessicated saints on display, some dating back hundreds of years and others recent enough to have been photographed in life.
In some cases, the term “incorruptible” seems perhaps overly generous. When the devout and lovely-in-life Bernadette of Lourdes was exhumed in 1919, a witness described the body thus:
“The body is practically mummified, covered with patches of mildew and quite a notable layer of salts, which appear to be calcium salts… The skin has disappeared in some places, but it is still present on most parts of the body.”
Readers of the above might be surprised to find out that not only was this considered good news and proof of incorruptibility, but that her mildewed and skinless corpse has been on display in a fairy tale style glass coffin for nearly a hundred years, and is widely considered to be among the most beautiful of the holy dead. However, seekers of proof of the miraculous might benefit from knowing that the hauntingly beautiful face and hands seen by thousands of pilgrims were in fact made by a designer of fashion mannequins in Paris. 

Via Atlas Obscura

Zombie, vampire or saint?
A grave disturbed, the coffin opened, and the body of a young girl, years dead, freakishly un-decomposed: Undead monster or miracle of faith? It depends on who’s asking. 
Under other circumstances, being discovered in a state of less than natural rot can be bad news for a corpse. In Germany and Italy such undecayed dead were considered highly suspect and likely to be named vampire and have a brick crammed in their undead mouth.
But the rules are different for potential saints. Where some see evidence of the rampaging undead, and others might see a really just slightly-less-than-funky corpse, the right people saw what has been come to be called “incorruptibility” - which is a good thing if you want to be saint. It’s also a good thing if you are a local church that would like to lure visitors by displaying a dead lady in a box for a few hundred years.
First class relics, or bodies and parts of bodies of saints, have long been among the Catholic church’s most revered artifacts, and these “Incorruptibles” are the best one might ask for, in terms of attracting the curious masses into your church. The mysteriously preserved body of a the particularly pious were seen as an indication of potential saintliness, their exhumed bodies expected to give off a sweet odor known as the “Odor of Sanctity”. This alone was not reason for canonization, but it was a step in the right direction. 
There are in reality, many reasons a corpse might not decay at a normal rate. In cases of a cold and humid environment, a process known as adipocere can transform the body’s fat into a waxy substance resistant to decay. Bodies buried in lime can become saponified, transforming that fat into something akin to soap. And finally, a dry environment can of course naturally produce the kind of mummies our favorite Wild West museums have propped up in corners.
Whatever the cause, there are LOTS of dessicated saints on display, some dating back hundreds of years and others recent enough to have been photographed in life.
In some cases, the term “incorruptible” seems perhaps overly generous. When the devout and lovely-in-life Bernadette of Lourdes was exhumed in 1919, a witness described the body thus:
“The body is practically mummified, covered with patches of mildew and quite a notable layer of salts, which appear to be calcium salts… The skin has disappeared in some places, but it is still present on most parts of the body.”
Readers of the above might be surprised to find out that not only was this considered good news and proof of incorruptibility, but that her mildewed and skinless corpse has been on display in a fairy tale style glass coffin for nearly a hundred years, and is widely considered to be among the most beautiful of the holy dead. However, seekers of proof of the miraculous might benefit from knowing that the hauntingly beautiful face and hands seen by thousands of pilgrims were in fact made by a designer of fashion mannequins in Paris. 

Via Atlas Obscura

Zombie, vampire or saint?

A grave disturbed, the coffin opened, and the body of a young girl, years dead, freakishly un-decomposed: Undead monster or miracle of faith? It depends on who’s asking. 

Under other circumstances, being discovered in a state of less than natural rot can be bad news for a corpse. In Germany and Italy such undecayed dead were considered highly suspect and likely to be named vampire and have a brick crammed in their undead mouth.

But the rules are different for potential saints. Where some see evidence of the rampaging undead, and others might see a really just slightly-less-than-funky corpse, the right people saw what has been come to be called “incorruptibility” - which is a good thing if you want to be saint. It’s also a good thing if you are a local church that would like to lure visitors by displaying a dead lady in a box for a few hundred years.

First class relics, or bodies and parts of bodies of saints, have long been among the Catholic church’s most revered artifacts, and these “Incorruptibles” are the best one might ask for, in terms of attracting the curious masses into your church. The mysteriously preserved body of a the particularly pious were seen as an indication of potential saintliness, their exhumed bodies expected to give off a sweet odor known as the “Odor of Sanctity”. This alone was not reason for canonization, but it was a step in the right direction. 

There are in reality, many reasons a corpse might not decay at a normal rate. In cases of a cold and humid environment, a process known as adipocere can transform the body’s fat into a waxy substance resistant to decay. Bodies buried in lime can become saponified, transforming that fat into something akin to soap. And finally, a dry environment can of course naturally produce the kind of mummies our favorite Wild West museums have propped up in corners.

Whatever the cause, there are LOTS of dessicated saints on display, some dating back hundreds of years and others recent enough to have been photographed in life.

In some cases, the term “incorruptible” seems perhaps overly generous. When the devout and lovely-in-life Bernadette of Lourdes was exhumed in 1919, a witness described the body thus:

“The body is practically mummified, covered with patches of mildew and quite a notable layer of salts, which appear to be calcium salts… The skin has disappeared in some places, but it is still present on most parts of the body.”

Readers of the above might be surprised to find out that not only was this considered good news and proof of incorruptibility, but that her mildewed and skinless corpse has been on display in a fairy tale style glass coffin for nearly a hundred years, and is widely considered to be among the most beautiful of the holy dead. However, seekers of proof of the miraculous might benefit from knowing that the hauntingly beautiful face and hands seen by thousands of pilgrims were in fact made by a designer of fashion mannequins in Paris. 

Via Atlas Obscura

Via Atlas Obscura

The Vampire Plague of Venice
It’s bad enough when the plague rolls into town, but the citizens of Venice apparently also did battle with vampires.
In 1629-1630 the black death descended on Italy, killing as many as 280,000 people. In isolated and crowded Venice, the disease hit hard, taking nearly a third of the population: 46,000 lives out of a population of just 140,000. The death and resulting chaos deeply brought the once great maritime empire to its knees.
In an attempt to prevent disasters like this, Venice had long ago built two quarantine islands on the outskirts of the city, known as Lazzaretto Vecchio (Old Quarantine) and Lazzaretto Nuovo (New Quarantine). During normal times, these islands functioned primarily as a filter, waylaying incoming ships as they entered the city so that crew and goods could be inspected for signs of disease.
But in the desperate times that came with the outbreak of the black death, citizens were taken by force and marooned on the islands, where they were left to die. Mass graves containing thousands of bodies have been uncovered on both islands in recent years.
But more distressingly than plague bodies, recent excavations also uncovered the skull of a woman with a brick jammed in her mouth, leaving her in an eternal scream. This was the prescribed method in the mid 17th century for dealing with “Shroud Eaters”, a type of vampire also known as “The Chewing Dead”. These particular vampires were believed to be able to cause death and disease from the comfort of their own graves, laying there in the dark, possessed and chewing at their burial garments. Vigilant citizens who somehow noticed unsettling masticating sounds emerging from the grave, or spotted the blood-stained mouths of the recently dead (a naturally occurring side effect of decomposition) took it upon themselves to put an end to the Shroud Eater’s reign of terror by inserting a brick in their mouth.
Although stories of the chewing dead and the treatments for them had long been a part of vampire lore, finding actual evidence of the practice is extremely rare.

The excavation referred to in the article took place in 2009 and you can find out more about the discovery of the ‘Vampire of Venice’ by clicking here.
Via Atlas Obscura

The Vampire Plague of Venice
It’s bad enough when the plague rolls into town, but the citizens of Venice apparently also did battle with vampires.
In 1629-1630 the black death descended on Italy, killing as many as 280,000 people. In isolated and crowded Venice, the disease hit hard, taking nearly a third of the population: 46,000 lives out of a population of just 140,000. The death and resulting chaos deeply brought the once great maritime empire to its knees.
In an attempt to prevent disasters like this, Venice had long ago built two quarantine islands on the outskirts of the city, known as Lazzaretto Vecchio (Old Quarantine) and Lazzaretto Nuovo (New Quarantine). During normal times, these islands functioned primarily as a filter, waylaying incoming ships as they entered the city so that crew and goods could be inspected for signs of disease.
But in the desperate times that came with the outbreak of the black death, citizens were taken by force and marooned on the islands, where they were left to die. Mass graves containing thousands of bodies have been uncovered on both islands in recent years.
But more distressingly than plague bodies, recent excavations also uncovered the skull of a woman with a brick jammed in her mouth, leaving her in an eternal scream. This was the prescribed method in the mid 17th century for dealing with “Shroud Eaters”, a type of vampire also known as “The Chewing Dead”. These particular vampires were believed to be able to cause death and disease from the comfort of their own graves, laying there in the dark, possessed and chewing at their burial garments. Vigilant citizens who somehow noticed unsettling masticating sounds emerging from the grave, or spotted the blood-stained mouths of the recently dead (a naturally occurring side effect of decomposition) took it upon themselves to put an end to the Shroud Eater’s reign of terror by inserting a brick in their mouth.
Although stories of the chewing dead and the treatments for them had long been a part of vampire lore, finding actual evidence of the practice is extremely rare.

The excavation referred to in the article took place in 2009 and you can find out more about the discovery of the ‘Vampire of Venice’ by clicking here.

Via Atlas Obscura

The Vampire Plague of Venice

It’s bad enough when the plague rolls into town, but the citizens of Venice apparently also did battle with vampires.

In 1629-1630 the black death descended on Italy, killing as many as 280,000 people. In isolated and crowded Venice, the disease hit hard, taking nearly a third of the population: 46,000 lives out of a population of just 140,000. The death and resulting chaos deeply brought the once great maritime empire to its knees.

In an attempt to prevent disasters like this, Venice had long ago built two quarantine islands on the outskirts of the city, known as Lazzaretto Vecchio (Old Quarantine) and Lazzaretto Nuovo (New Quarantine). During normal times, these islands functioned primarily as a filter, waylaying incoming ships as they entered the city so that crew and goods could be inspected for signs of disease.

But in the desperate times that came with the outbreak of the black death, citizens were taken by force and marooned on the islands, where they were left to die. Mass graves containing thousands of bodies have been uncovered on both islands in recent years.

But more distressingly than plague bodies, recent excavations also uncovered the skull of a woman with a brick jammed in her mouth, leaving her in an eternal scream. This was the prescribed method in the mid 17th century for dealing with “Shroud Eaters”, a type of vampire also known as “The Chewing Dead”. These particular vampires were believed to be able to cause death and disease from the comfort of their own graves, laying there in the dark, possessed and chewing at their burial garments. Vigilant citizens who somehow noticed unsettling masticating sounds emerging from the grave, or spotted the blood-stained mouths of the recently dead (a naturally occurring side effect of decomposition) took it upon themselves to put an end to the Shroud Eater’s reign of terror by inserting a brick in their mouth.

Although stories of the chewing dead and the treatments for them had long been a part of vampire lore, finding actual evidence of the practice is extremely rare.

The excavation referred to in the article took place in 2009 and you can find out more about the discovery of the ‘Vampire of Venice’ by clicking here.


The “science” of Edward Cullen, a sparkly vampire
Many elements of science fiction have their roots in actual science, so why couldn’t the same be true of Edward Cullen? For those of you who have not heard of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series (all one or two of you), Edward Cullen is a dreamy vampire who is madly in love with a human girl (see: irony). He has classic vampire traits: he really wants to drink human blood (but he abstains!), and he’s icy cold to the touch. And he has not-so-classic vampire traits: he sparkles in the sunlight (sunlight which he tries to avoid, because sparkling publicly would give away his non-humanness).
What would you say if I told you I could explain Edward Cullen (everything but his hair, that is) using science?

Intrigued? Click the photo of R-Patz to find out more! Via Try Nerdy.

The “science” of Edward Cullen, a sparkly vampire
Many elements of science fiction have their roots in actual science, so why couldn’t the same be true of Edward Cullen? For those of you who have not heard of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series (all one or two of you), Edward Cullen is a dreamy vampire who is madly in love with a human girl (see: irony). He has classic vampire traits: he really wants to drink human blood (but he abstains!), and he’s icy cold to the touch. And he has not-so-classic vampire traits: he sparkles in the sunlight (sunlight which he tries to avoid, because sparkling publicly would give away his non-humanness).
What would you say if I told you I could explain Edward Cullen (everything but his hair, that is) using science?

Intrigued? Click the photo of R-Patz to find out more! Via Try Nerdy.

The “science” of Edward Cullen, a sparkly vampire

Many elements of science fiction have their roots in actual science, so why couldn’t the same be true of Edward Cullen? For those of you who have not heard of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series (all one or two of you), Edward Cullen is a dreamy vampire who is madly in love with a human girl (see: irony). He has classic vampire traits: he really wants to drink human blood (but he abstains!), and he’s icy cold to the touch. And he has not-so-classic vampire traits: he sparkles in the sunlight (sunlight which he tries to avoid, because sparkling publicly would give away his non-humanness).

What would you say if I told you I could explain Edward Cullen (everything but his hair, that is) using science?

Intrigued? Click the photo of R-Patz to find out more! Via Try Nerdy.

Archaeology of the Undead

Lots of press has been given in the past week to two late 7th to early 9th century burials found at the site of Kilteasheen in Ireland. According to the news reports and the documentary (which won’t air in the U.S. until 2012, but which you can see on YouTube… for now), archaeologists excavating at the site from 2005-2009 uncovered over 130 graves.  Two of them - both males - were buried with stones in their mouths, and one of the men also had a large stone on top of his torso.  Aside from a 2008 report of a 4,000-year-old burial, these two early 8th century Irish burials seem to be the oldest evidence of what may be the practice of preventing “revenants” (zombies, vampires, and other undead people) from returning to the land of the living.

Check out this excellent blog post by Kristina Killgrove about archaeological ‘revenants’ and be sure to watch the documentary about the ‘vampire’ burials in Ireland - now available on Youtube!
Archaeology of the Undead

Lots of press has been given in the past week to two late 7th to early 9th century burials found at the site of Kilteasheen in Ireland. According to the news reports and the documentary (which won’t air in the U.S. until 2012, but which you can see on YouTube… for now), archaeologists excavating at the site from 2005-2009 uncovered over 130 graves.  Two of them - both males - were buried with stones in their mouths, and one of the men also had a large stone on top of his torso.  Aside from a 2008 report of a 4,000-year-old burial, these two early 8th century Irish burials seem to be the oldest evidence of what may be the practice of preventing “revenants” (zombies, vampires, and other undead people) from returning to the land of the living.

Check out this excellent blog post by Kristina Killgrove about archaeological ‘revenants’ and be sure to watch the documentary about the ‘vampire’ burials in Ireland - now available on Youtube!

Archaeology of the Undead

Lots of press has been given in the past week to two late 7th to early 9th century burials found at the site of Kilteasheen in Ireland. According to the news reports and the documentary (which won’t air in the U.S. until 2012, but which you can see on YouTube… for now), archaeologists excavating at the site from 2005-2009 uncovered over 130 graves.  Two of them - both males - were buried with stones in their mouths, and one of the men also had a large stone on top of his torso.  Aside from a 2008 report of a 4,000-year-old burial, these two early 8th century Irish burials seem to be the oldest evidence of what may be the practice of preventing “revenants” (zombies, vampires, and other undead people) from returning to the land of the living.

Check out this excellent blog post by Kristina Killgrove about archaeological ‘revenants’ and be sure to watch the documentary about the ‘vampire’ burials in Ireland - now available on Youtube!

Vampire Slaying Kit For Sale!

A BB reader spotted this antique vampire-killing kit at an antiques show this weekend. You may purchase it from Best of France Antiques in Buckingham, Pennsylvanie. Included are a pistol, a stake, garlic, holy water, mirror, bible, silver bullets, and crucifixes. It’s $9,000, which is quite a bargain if you are in need of such a kit.

I’m somewhat sceptical, but it does look awesome and the article contains some interesting links to ‘genuine’ kits…
Vampire Slaying Kit For Sale!

A BB reader spotted this antique vampire-killing kit at an antiques show this weekend. You may purchase it from Best of France Antiques in Buckingham, Pennsylvanie. Included are a pistol, a stake, garlic, holy water, mirror, bible, silver bullets, and crucifixes. It’s $9,000, which is quite a bargain if you are in need of such a kit.

I’m somewhat sceptical, but it does look awesome and the article contains some interesting links to ‘genuine’ kits…

Vampire Slaying Kit For Sale!

A BB reader spotted this antique vampire-killing kit at an antiques show this weekend. You may purchase it from Best of France Antiques in Buckingham, Pennsylvanie. Included are a pistol, a stake, garlic, holy water, mirror, bible, silver bullets, and crucifixes. It’s $9,000, which is quite a bargain if you are in need of such a kit.

I’m somewhat sceptical, but it does look awesome and the article contains some interesting links to ‘genuine’ kits…