Photos: ‘Vampire’ burials and what they mean, according to experts. – Business Insider

Experts debate what makes a "vampire" burial.

For Borrini, spiritual energy rising from the grave to torment the living is defined as a ghost whereas a "vampire" was thought to raise as a body.

For him, vampire burials have to include beheading or staking, burning of the bodies, or obstruction of the mouth, he said.

In that sense, in Eastern Europe, the first documented account of a vampire dates all the way back to the 11th century. But because they are few other contemporary documents, it's difficult to know when and how the beliefs started spreading. It's only in the 17th century that scholars started really studying and documenting these myths, said Borrini.

Another way to define a "vampire" is as a recipient of a so-called deviant burial, Wilson said.

This word means that the person was buried in a way that is different from other burials at the time, for instance, buried face down or beheaded.

"The Western idea of the vampire comes from Slavic folklore. But the idea the dead can either rise from the grave in a literal sense or that the dead, in a spiritual sense, can continue to plague the living beyond death is something that's essentially present in almost every culture and has very, very ancient origins," she said.

By this standard, "vampire" burials can be found all the way back to the stone age, she said.

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Photos: 'Vampire' burials and what they mean, according to experts. - Business Insider

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