To stop the "vampires" supposedly chewing shrouds and spreading disease, grave-diggers put bricks in the mouths of plague victims (Image: Matteo Borrini)
From New Scientist:
A SKELETON exhumed from a grave in Venice is being claimed as the first known example of the "vampires" widely referred to in contemporary documents.
Matteo Borrini of the University of Florence in Italy found the skeleton of a woman with a small brick in her mouth (see right) while excavating mass graves of plague victims from the Middle Ages on Lazzaretto Nuovo Island in Venice (see second image here).
At the time the woman died, many people believed that the plague was spread by "vampires" which, rather than drinking people's blood, spread disease by chewing on their shrouds after dying. Grave-diggers put bricks in the mouths of suspected vampires to stop them doing this, Borrini says.
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