Vampire facts tell us that although the first proper mentions of them in literature date to the 18th century, the first true Vampires actually date back to the ancient Babylonians and the year 4000 BC. They were called ekimmu and were believed to be a vengeful or evil spirit who had, upon death, not been buried properly, and thus escaped to torment and suck the life out of people who were still living.
Here are 8 fun facts about vampires:
- Unlike the witch crazes which had previously swept across Europe, vampire scares typically focused primarily on accusing the dead of evil behavior. So hunting and slaying vampires mostly involved digging up graves and desecrating corpses, rather than persecuting and killing the living.
- Recognizable vampire mythology goes back as far as ancient Babylonia and the Sanskrit tales of classical India. There were blood-drinking demons in ancient Greece and Rome, in the medieval Islamic world, and in Renaissance Europe.
- Various forms of vampire lore exist in Asia, the Pacific Rim, Africa, Central and South America, and Australia. The Slavic folklore of Eastern Europe is where much of our own culture’s concept of vampires originated.
- In Slavic lore, vampires are undead – dead but mobile and active. In some cultures, vampires are instead demons or creatures whose origins are entirely supernatural. And in some cultures, they may be evil spirits that invade a living body.
- In all mythologies, vampires prey on living people, and in most cases, they drink human blood. They also often eat human body parts. Which body parts depends on which culture is telling the story.
- Although staking vampires to “kill” them was common in some Slavic regions, it was often instead used as a method of immobilization. By driving a stake through the torso of a vampire to pin it to its grave, you could prevent it from rising to hunt and kill.
- In other regions, decapitation was considered the only truly reliable method of stopping a vampire. People in other areas considered cremation essential to prevent a vampire from rising (or from rising again), while still others believed that a vampire must be disposed of in water. Sometimes the heart of the vampire had to be cut out of its body.
- Stoker originated the concept, still popular in many vampire portrayals today, that a vampire has no reflection in a mirror. This trope doesn’t exist in folklore or in fiction before Dracula.