Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Before Dracula: Vampire Archaeology

An Italian reader has kindly informed me of a new book on vampires: Prima di Dracula: Archeologia  del vampiro (Before Dracula: Vampire Archaeology) by Tommaso Braccini, who 'has earned a doctorate in Anthropology of the Ancient World and works at the University of Siena's Interdepartmental Centre for Anthropology of the Ancient World'. The publisher introduces the book this way:

'As the Middle Ages drew to a close, in the Balkans and in the increasingly distressed territories of the dying Byzantine Empire, there was a widespread fear of restless dead people who would abandon their tombs in order to hound the living. Drawing upon wide-ranging original research, this book examines the development of beliefs in vampires in the Byzantine and Slavic Middle Ages, explores their origins in ancient times, and follows their evolution and relationships with heresy and the history of the Church up to the modern era. Anthropological analysis of ancient sources reveals unexpected facets of the vampire myth; the ensuing "archaeology" shows that reality truly can be stranger than fiction.'

According to my informant, 'The author quotes extensively dozens of sources in Latin, Ancient and modern Greek and other European languages, and I must confess that many of them are not even quoted by Summers, Barber, Lecouteux, Keyworth or other renowned vampire history experts. His bibliography seems also very up-to-date. It is very specific about Byzantine and Greek vampires, but it delves also on the magia posthuma question.'

The book is available from Italian Amazon at a price of €15.30.

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