London, March 7 (ANI): A skeleton found in a grave in Venice has been claimed by scientists as the first known example of people who were believed to be "vampires" in the Middle Ages.
According to a report in New Scientist, Matteo Borrini of the University of Florence in Italy found the skeleton.
He discovered the skeleton of a woman with a small brick in her mouth while excavating mass graves of plague victims from the Middle Ages on Lazzaretto Nuovo Island in Venice.
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 said.
The belief in vampires probably arose because blood is sometimes expelled from the mouths of the dead, causing the shroud to sink inwards and tear.
Borrini, who presented his findings at a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in Denver, Colorado, last week, claims this might be the first such vampire to have been forensically examined.
The skeleton was removed from a mass grave of victims of the Venetian plague of 1576.
Borrini said that his study details the earliest grave to show archaeological "exorcism evidence against vampires". (ANI)