Looking Into the Origin of Vampires

Stories of vampires have been around for about a thousand years, as far as we know, but those Eastern European tales did not involve bats or Romanian despots or anything we see from Hollywood. At its core, the vampire myth was a way of explaining terrible things that happened to people by blaming the dead. Disease was particularly troubling. Before germ theory, it was difficult to understand why a remote village would be stricken by horrific illnesses such as rabies or pellagra that caused such strange symptoms and usually death. In these isolated villages, every family knew at least one dead person who might be seeking revenge on the living when an outbreak occurred. Over time, they developed defenses against the dead, which often involved digging up graves to destroy the remains, a practice that continued well into the relatively modern times. Research into the matter is hampered by a centuries-old restriction on saying the name of the demon who caused the calamity. Read about the origins of the vampire legend at Atlas Obscura.


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