The rods were meant to keep them from turning into vampires, according to the head of a history museum.
According to ancient pagan beliefs, people who were considered bad during their lifetimes could potentially turn into vampires after death – unless they were stabbed through the chest with an iron or wooden rod before being buried.
“These two skeletons stabbed with rods illustrate a practice which was common in some Bulgarian villages up until the first decade of the 20th century,” said national history museum chief Bozhidar Dimitrov after the recent find in the Black Sea town of Sozopol.
People believed the rod would also pin the deceased into their graves and keep them from leaving at midnight and terrorizing the living.
The practice was fairly common, Dimitrov added, saying that some 100 similar burials already had been found in Bulgaria.
Archaeologist Petar Balabanov, who back in 2004 stumbled upon six nailed-down skeletons at a site near the eastern town of Debelt, said the pagan rite was also practiced in neighbouring Serbia and other Balkan countries.
Legends of vampires run rampant in the Balkans. The most well-known is that of Romanian count Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula, who staked his war enemies and drank their blood.
Let’s hope those archaeologists didn’t remove the pins!