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ITALIAN researchers believe they have found the remains of a female "vampire" in Venice, buried with a brick jammed between her jaws to prevent her feeding on victims of a plague which swept the city in the 16th century.
Matteo Borrini, an anthropologist from the University of Florence, said the discovery on the small island of Lazzaretto Nuovo in the Venice lagoon supported the medieval belief that vampires were behind the spread of plagues like the Black Death.
"This is the first time that archaeology has succeeded in reconstructing the ritual of exorcism of a vampire," Borrini said. "This helps ... authenticate how the myth of vampires was born."
The skeleton was unearthed in a mass grave from the Venetian plague of 1576 - in which the artist Titian died - on Lazzaretto Nuovo, which lies around 3km northeast of Venice and was used as a sanitorium for plague sufferers.