Sozopol, Bulgaria, could soon join the ranks of popular vampire sites, such as Dracula's Castle in Romania and the Vampire Museum in Paris. Archaeologists excavated two suspected "vampire" graves in the Black Sea town last Sunday, and each 700-year-old skeleton had an iron rod pinned into its chest.
While it has created quite a stir, Bozhidar Dimitrov, the director of the National Museum of History in Sofia, said the discovery was not that unusual. "Vampires are part of the Bulgarian national mythology," he said in an email to ABC News. "In the past, we have also discovered vampire burials, and the bodies were treated the same way. This tradition is connected with the belief that people who spilled much blood during their life will become vampires and will be walking zombies attacking the living. To prevent this after the death of such people, their bodies were stabbed with an iron or wooden rod."
While the full impact of this "vampire" discovery on Sozopol tourism will not be known until the end of the summer, there there has been an immediate reaction. "Some of the bars near the excavation site have already been renamed 'The Vampire," said Dimitrov, "and are serving cocktails like "Vampire's Blood.'"
Most of the vampire folklore originated in Slavic countries, so there is a higher prevalence of burial instances in that region. The Sofia museum is planning an exhibit to showcase this latest archaeological finding, which will include the funeral itself, explanatory texts and macro photos of the archaeological excavations.
"Every few years we hear of the latest archaeological find, and its attribution to vampire-lore," said a 33-year-old vampire researcher and the current administrator of Voices of the Vampire Community who goes by the name Merticus.
"Having such a wide assortment of physical records is invaluable to researchers and enthusiasts," said Merticus. "The Bulgarian and Italian burial claims in the past couple of years add to the mystery and lure of the vampire across all cultures, even for real vampires.
"Real vampires," Merticus explains, "believe they must consume the blood of other living humans by consensual means in order to maintain their well-being."
But rather than worrying about iron stakes through the heart, or being hunted at local hangouts, modern vampires say it's time to stop focusing on folklore.
"While exhibits are fascinating, I would like to see more responsible scientific interpretation and less knee-jerk 'put a vampire on it' claim, even if the Bulgarian burials are in fact directly linked to vampire lore. As a society we are rapidly approaching vampire overload - on all fronts."