The Archaeological Evidence of Vampire Folk Belief in New England

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Historically, many cultures throughout the world have developed folk beliefs that explain the natural processes of death and disease. In the winter of 1990, Connecticut's state archeologist was called to a gravel mine in Griswold to respectfully remove the remains of 29 individuals after two skulls were found by two teenaged boys playing there.  It turned out that they had uncovered  an unmarked 18th and 19th century farming family graveyard.  During the removal process, the archeologist, Dr. Nicholas Bellantoni, discovered that one of the skeletons, an adult male, had been re-arranged in his grave, which included decapitation. Dr. Bellantoni suspected and with subsequent research confirmed, that the re-arrangement was part of a vampire folk belief in which rural families thought the mischievous dead were capable of leaving their graves to transmit diseases to the living. Listen as Dr. Bellantoni recalls the case, his research on vampirism in New England and relay recent DNA evidence that sheds new light on this fascinating case.

About the Presenter

Dr. Nicholas F. Bellantoni serves as the emeritus state archaeologist with the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History at the University of Connecticut. He received his doctorate in anthropology from UConn in 1987 and was shortly thereafter appointed state archaeologist. He also serves as an Adjunct Associate Research Professor in the Department of Anthropology at UConn, and is a former president of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut and the National Association of State Archeologists.  Additionally, Dr. Bellantoni has been a featured expert on numerous programs on The History Channel, Smithsonian Channel, Discovery, PBS and the Travel Channel.


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