Fighting vampires with bricks? You might just be from 17th century Venice

Killing a vampire is pretty straightforward. A wooden stake through the heart, holy water, Keanu Reeves, a particularly garlic-laden spaghetti...these are time-tested strategies for dispatching foul hellspawns bent on draining your blood. But the good people of Venice, circa 1630, had their own regional variation. See, Venice was having a bit of a plague problem, something to the tune of 1/3 of the city being wiped out by Yersinia Pestis. Since the concept of bacteria was foreign to the inhabitants, they began to blame the contagion on "female vampires". A reasonable conclusion for any unfortunate event, from plane crashes to the current financial crisis.

Venetians tasked with the super fun  job of burying the plague victims kept a sharp lookout for signs of vampirism. Namely "biting on the burial shroud" or "soiling of the burial shroud". Both of these are common post-mortem phenomena, but for ol' Francisco the Gravedigger they were incontrovertable proof of a nasty vampire.

Once the ghoul had been identified, there was but one remedy: a brick in the mouth. This somehow immobilized the prospective vampire, saving the city from further infection. And somewhere, a tiny plague bacillus laughed.

The brick-in-the-mouth technique was known to researchers annecdotally, but physical evidence remained elusive. Until a couple of archaeologists dug one up this week:


Uncomfortable. And effective, since modern Venice is 100 per cent vampire-free. But that's not for me, though. I prefer the crushing finality of a wooden stake to a soulless brick anyday. Plus, a staked vampire usually bursts into flames or dissolves or something. I think we can all agree that's pretty cool.