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Vampires in Different Cultures: Behind the Myths
A guide to the idea of vampires in many different cultures.
In this article found on the BCC, they briefly discuss a few theories as to what started the widespread belief of vampires in Eastern Europe. Nutrient deficiencies, rabies and other diseases caused by animal bites, porphyria, and catalepsy could all have seemed supernatural and evil to people with no knowledge of science. They also mention how stories of people suffering with these conditions could have ended up in large city news papers such as London and Paris, hence spreading the myths.
This book focuses on New England mostly during the 1800s when many people believed in vampires. This book contains real stories of families who were, in their minds, afflicted by these vampires and in many cases even tried to hunt them down. This book contains rich information on how these beliefs affected the process of burying the dead.
Published by the John Hopkins University Press, this article analyzes the rare disease called porphyria as a potential cause for the rise of the vampire myth. Porphyria among other things makes the skin burn and shrivel in the sun, much like the stereotypical vampire. It is a rare disease but the article presumes that in small villages the gene pool would be very similar and could create higher rates of the condition. It is also discussed that the stereotype of people with this condition as vampires could be harmful.
In this ebook, the author goes into great depth about the many beliefs about vampires as well as the reasons people may have believed in them. If you dont have time to read the whole book, I suggest chapters 11 and 12 to learn this authors thoughts debunking common theories as to why people believed in vampires as well as his theories about decomposition making corpses appear as though they are otherworldly, grotesque beings.
In this article from the Journal of Folklore Research the author analyzes the actual science of decomposition from a modern lens. Using old accounts of supposed vampire dissections, the author tells us what most likely caused the 'super natural effects' witnessed by people of the past.
In this short article by John Buhler, the topic of decomposition as well as the vampiric beliefs on burial practices are discussed. The reader will learn that there was a fear of any creature that died young, evidenced by archeological evidence of a children's graveyard where the arms and legs of the corpses are weighted down.