Vampire discovered in Mass Grave

New Scientist has the news.

vampire-dead-from-new-scientist

A SKELETON exhumed from a grave in Venice is being claimed as the first known example of the “vampires” widely referred to in contemporary documents.

Matteo Borrini of the University of Florence in Italy found the skeleton of a woman with a small brick in her mouth ….

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 says.

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.

However, Peer Moore-Jansen of Wichita State University in Kansas says he has found similar skeletons in Poland and that while Borrini’s finding is exciting, “claiming it as the first vampire is a little ridiculous”.

Borrini says his study details the earliest grave to show archaeological “exorcism evidence against vampires”.

I would never have thought this was a vampire, if I hadn’t been told already. It also makes me a bit interested in seeing Peer Moor-Jansen’s work. I’ll say that Borrini did an incredibly better job at making his dig exciting, if PMJ has found multiple skeletons and no one has heard about it.

I think this would be good to use for my next popular culture paper, or something else. I’ve got the vampire religion article to go with it. This has to be useful someway.

Belief in vampires was rampant in the Middle Ages, mostly because the process of decomposition was not well understood.

For instance, as the human stomach decays, it releases a dark “purge fluid.” This bloodlike liquid can flow freely from a corpse’s nose and mouth, so it was apparently sometimes confused with traces of vampire victims’ blood.

The fluid sometimes moistened the burial shroud near the corpse’s mouth enough that it sagged into the jaw, creating tears in the cloth.

Since tombs were often reopened during plagues so other victims could be added, Italian gravediggers saw these decomposing bodies with partially “eaten” shrouds, Borrini said.

from National Geographic

And this from the Scotsman:

During the Black Death period in the Middle Ages the cemetery was the final resting place for more than 1,500 corpses, and dozens of well preserved remains have been found. But the “vampire” discovery is the first of its kind at Lazzaretto Vecchio, the island used to quarantine and bury plague victims.

Dr Matteo Borrini, an anthropological archaeologist of Florence University, said the woman’s skull had been impaled through the mouth with a brick – a traditional method of ensuring the “undead” could no longer feed. Dr Borrini said there was a widespread belief that the plague was spread by female vampires.

But CNET has a far more chatty, and popular culture approach, along with an explanation for a line in other articles.

Oh, what would Buffy say to this? They’ve finally dug up a vampire.

[When PMJ says he found a lot in Poland.] Ah, countered Dr. Borrini, but this is the first time we have seen “exorcism evidence against vampires.”
So there we have it. I blame the early Van Helsing family myself. I believe they performed a large number of these mouth-brickings for many centuries before they decided that a stake through the heart was far more commercial.

Buffy references abound when you go looking for them (which I did).

Metro UK wrote:

It’s not quite in the vein of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer sacrifice.

Those trying to save us from evil bloodsuckers 500 years ago didn’t rely on a stake through the heart – they used a humble brick.

Or we can have the same story with a riff on “The Lady is a Tramp” by the title The Lady is a Vamp from Mirror UK.

The body of a “vampire” from 500 years ago has been found with a stake through her mouth.

The gruesome discovery was made at a burial ground for victims of the Black Death in Venice.

Experts say people thought putting a stake through a skull stopped vampires in their tracks.

“So this is Christmas”

Andrew Luckabaugh could hardly contain himself. The Fairfax County 9-year-old was aboard a Boeing 777 at Dulles International Airport, bound for the North Pole. Soon, he would be meeting Santa Claus and telling the big guy what he wants for Christmas this year.

>Read the rest.

The whole song about “so this is Christmas” just sang in my head while I read this post.

I’m not a kitschy person

but I laughed (and cringed) at some of the Christian kitsch on display. I clicked on the link to learn why there is a pooping Pope.

I didn’t vote, but you have to admit that commenter Tim came up with some great categories: Someone’s going to Hell for This and I’d Buy that for a Buck.

I think the lightswitch plate with the switch where Jesus’ thang would be… That warrants the first category. And maybe the Magic 8 Ball Jesus. Maybe even the “Jesus Hates it when you smoke” ashtray, especially when paired with the Jesus cigarette case.

For I’d Buy that for a Buck, well, now I need a pooping pope (I’d rather have a pooping shephered.) and I’d take the Benedict Brew, too.

Go. Laugh. It’s fun.

Some of the kitsch is trying to hard to be kitsch and some is genuine kitsch. As another commenter put it, would an old woman who loves tacky Christmas sweaters and Jesus have these in her house? If she would, then it’s genuine kitsch.

Bones Rocked!

Bones began its new season tonight. It was great. The lines were so funny, so strong, so perfect… We had to stop the TV and rewind at least twice because we all burst out laughing.

Great show.

Mummified dinosaur found

It’s an Edmonton dinosaur found in North Dakota and its skin looks much like we expected it to look.

“The process of decay was overtaken by that of fossilization, preserving many of the soft-tissue structures,” Manning said.

To see a photograph, go to National Geographic.

How do you make Mayan blue?

Scientists have long known the basic chemical components of the pigment, which has a remarkable ability to resist age, acid, weathering, and even modern chemical solvents.

“Unlike a lot of natural pigments that may fade, [Maya blue] is very stable,” said Gary Feinman, curator of Mesoamerican anthropology at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois.

But the exact recipe, along with the tools the Maya used to create the pigment and the circumstances surrounding its use, were unknown.

Analyses revealed the incense was made of a copal, a tree sap whose smoke the Maya believed nourished the gods.

The pigment was the famed Maya blue, and the flecks were bits of a white clay mineral called palygorskite.

According to previous studies, Maya blue is made by fusing palygorskite with pigments from the leaves of the indigo plant.

But the two ingredients do not readily combine, and it was unknown how the Maya fused them.

Archaeologists had suspected that copal was important to the production of Maya blue, and the new findings seem to confirm that theory.

“Our study suggests that heat and copal incense likely were key elements used to fuse the two components together,” Feinman said.

from National Geographic

For a bit on red, read my blog post here.

Dielli

Why women DO wear high heels

Why Women Wear High Heels?

Because we want to look tall,
being so short
and we want to feel good,
feeling so sad

Why Women Wear High Heels?

Because we hate ourselves?
Or maybe love ourselves
or we want to look pretty
being unattractive

Why Women Wear High Heels?

Because you don’t have to be rich
to wear high heels
you can be very poor
you can also be fat
or skinny or just a medium size

poetry by Daisy Cubias who is apparently a Latina in Wisconsin.

Some think of heels as a modern version of Cinderella’s glass slippers. They give the wearer instant height and maybe even confidence. Others simply think high heels add elegance to any outfit.

from Asia One

High heels belong to the traditional feminine realm but do not subordinate. They instead radiate dominance; perhaps in a subversive and gendered form, but nonetheless it is dominance and most importantly – a woman’s dominance. Patricia Field, a Sex and the City stylist used stilettos to “symbolize the characters’ sexual power, as well as their independence.” (InStyle Magazine, 346)

“I can’t wear flats; I always feel like I’m walking uphill.” – Anonymous

Much of this power comes not only from the physical aspects such as height, posture and body inflections, but also from raw sex appeal. High heels are a traditional wardrobe staple of every vamp and streetwalker which makes sense since they cash in and use sexuality for their own purposes and as Gamman says, “It’s hard not to be sexy in a pair of high heels.” (Gamman, 98)

The high heel is the “zenith of the very feminine look,” (Kaite, 96) and its contribution to the construction of feminine identity is blatant. Despite possible negative consequences, they have other physical effects on the wearer. Esquire writes, “They taper the toes. They arch the instep. They lift the calves. They tilt the fanny and bow the back and oil the hips and sashay the gait…. They make the foot look shorter and more precious and yet add the formidableness of extra height.” (Friday, 463) They create the illusion of longer and more defined legs, more pronounced and curved breasts, and a rounder butt. High heels emphasize all the aspects that are considered to belong to the realm of women’s physically sexual attributes.

According to Harper’s Index, high heels raise the buttocks as much as 25 %.

The alluring eroticism of women in high heels is recognized and even feared. In the United States’ earlier history, “The Massachusetts colony passed a law: ‘All women, whether virgins, maidens or widows, who…seduce or betray into matrimony any of His Majesty’s male subjects by virtue of…high heel shoes, shall incur the penalty of the law now enforced against witchcraft.’” (Benstock & Ferriss, 10)

High heels, most effectively stilettos, embody complex paradoxes and social innuendos. There is inherent tension between sexuality and danger. They constantly revolve and play with the masculine/ feminine dichotomy. The “The high heel is a weapon…and also a phallic symbol. And at the same time that it cripples a woman, it makes her seem powerful. In heels, the woman can be evilly subdued – she can’t run very fast, she’s off balance, her feet probably hurt – but she’s also taller, wearing a spiked thing that could be driven into a man’s body: It’s called a stiletto after all.”

“Stiletto” means “thin-bladed knife” – Kaite, 96


Freudian theory says that shoes represent the female body and in dreams, they represent female genetalia. The “Shoe is symbolic of the vagina. Tension between the “active” and “passive” components of the shoe…It is an economic balance of two parts: a womblike enclosure and the phallic extremity.” (Kaite, 97) These are “heels with the potential of piercing and penetrating, and thus have powerfully invasive qualities.” (Kaite, 100)

With such meaning infused in every step a woman can take, it is no wonder that the shoe has become an object of fixation, obsession and love. In today’s world of glitzy-glam consumerism and self-discovery, every accessory can be an attempt to encapsulate and define one’s perfect self image. Ferriss and Benstock write that there is a “…satisfaction we take in having purchased a pair of shoes that ‘is us,’ that represents us… The fashionable dress of the Western world is one means whereby an always fragmentary self is glued together into a semblance of unified identity. Shoes serve as markers of gender, class, race, ethnicity, and even sexuality.” (Ferriss & Benstock, 4)

Shoes have always denoted lifestyle and one’s place both in the formal and informal sectors of society. As the famous Forrest Gump says, “There’s an awful lot you can tell ’bout a person by their shoes — Where they goin, where they been…” (Forrest Gump, 1994) In the case of high heels tend to say one of two things about a person, high class or sex worker.

“The initial association between rank, wealth, and certain styles and fabrics is made: silk and the high heel are for the leisured classes, the bourgeois classes.” (Kaite, 93) From Catherine de Medicis and the ladies of the French court to Manolo Blahnik’s “limousine shoes,” high heels proclaim wealth and status.

On the other hand, ” ‘Sensible shoes’- from moccasins to work boots- identify the wearer as a member of the laboring classes, feet planted firmly on the ground.” (Benstock & Ferriss) In sensible shoes one can plow a field, pave a road or simply walk as a means of transportation. In heels one is clearly going “somewhere” in both the literal and metaphorical sense.

Since their Venetian birth, high heels have been markers of the privileged. In the sixteenth century, both men and women of the leisure class wore heeled shoes as high as thirty inches….

“A similar psychology of wealth and status may still be operating, the richer you are, the higher the heels, and the more likely it is that you only have to walk a few short, painful steps from you limo to your destination.” (Tamsin, 11) Today this upper class connotation remains, after all, “Women may ‘wear’ slippers, ‘put on’ sneakers and ‘slip into’ loafers, but they ‘dress’ in high heels.” (O’Keefe, 72)

Another important factor speaking to the nuances of class and femininity is foot size. With 88 percent of surveyed women wearing shoes that are too small, there is clearly a remaining obsession with small feet. The high heel tapers the toes and arches the foot giving the appearance not only of eroticized curled toes but also the illusion of being small and delicate.

In wearing high heels women can choose to empower themselves – yourselves – ourselves – myself and own the power surrounding these dangerous, sexual, authoritative, proactive gendered objects- high heels.

from a paper at Bryn Mawr University

And they plain just make you look sexy.

The general rule is that sexy shoes reveal as much of the foot as they hide from view. The perfect shoe frames the foot, like a frame on a painting, and so is effectively displaying it for all to see as well as protecting the foot from the perils of walking or dancing.

from Pink Fridge

The new Tetris

Well, okay, it’s not Tetris. It’s a geography game. But I’ve been working on it for hours. And having fun. And learning.

Travel IQ Challenge. I’ve played it a lot. My highest score so far is a 114.

Supposedly I can upload this here, but I couldn’t figure out how.

Thanks to Ravenwood’s Universe who introduced the game to me.