WORLDPOST
04/11/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Medieval 'Vampire' Skull Found Near Venice

The skull of a "vampire" has been found near Venice among the corpses of 16th century plague victims, reports LiveScience. The leader of the archaeological dig believes the skull belongs to the body of a woman accused of being a vampire during Medieval times because a rock was shoved into her mouth.

According to the Telegraph, the practice of shoving a rock into the skull of the dead was a Medieval method of preventing the spread of the plague.

Female "vampires" were often blamed for spreading the plague epidemics through Europe, said Matteo Borrini of Florence University.

Wedging a rock or brick into the mouth of a suspected vampire was a way of preventing the person from feeding on the bodies of other plague victims and rising from the grave to attack the living, he told a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in Denver last week.

National Geographic describes the archaeologists surprise at finding the skull:

It's the first time that archaeological remains have been interpreted as belonging to a suspected vampire, team leader Matteo Borrini, a forensic archaeologist at the University of Florence, told National Geographic News.

Borrini has been digging up mass graves on the island of Lazzaretto Nuovo, where the "vampire" was found, since 2006.

"I was lucky. I [didn't] expect to find a vampire during my excavations," he said.

Watch a video here from ABC News about the excavation.