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The Source:

Joseph Pitton de Tournefort:
"Relation d'un Voyage au Levant" (1717)

The Case:

In this book, the French expert on plants Joseph Pitton de Tournefort describes his presence at the cremation of a vampire corpse on the Greek island of Mykonos, in 1701. This is my own synopsis of the events.

A farmer on the island, who had been a bit of a bully during his lifetime, was found dead, probably murdered, somewhere in the fields. He had hardly been buried for two days when the complaints started. It was said that he entered the houses during the night and made a lot of trouble, kicking around the furniture as well as molesting the people. At first, people thought it was a laughing matter, but things soon got out of hand, and even the priests thought that action should be taken.

On the 10th day after the funeral, a Mass was celebrated, after which the body was exhumed. The old village butcher was ordered to cut out the heart. Apparently this guy must have thought that humans have the same anatomy as a sheep, for by the time that he had finally found the heart, the corpse looked like a victim of Jack-the-Ripper. The stench of corruption was unbearable, worsened by the incense that the priests were burning. According to de Tournefort, it must have been the lack of fresh air that caused many of the people to think they saw vampirical signs on the corpse. Even the people outside the church added their bit to the general hysteria by shouting: "Vrykolakas ! Vrykolakas !".

Tournefort and his companions tried to calm down the villagers by suggesting that there was nothing special about this corpse. But they soon concluded that it would be wiser not to get involved. The vampire's heart was taken to the beach and cremated. But this was not the end to it. The dead man did not cease his nocturnal activities. They became more violent than before.

The priests came to the conclusion that they had made a mistake. They should have burnt the heart first, and then have celebrated the Mass. So they went around the village in a procession, throwing Holy Water on the doors and even pouring it into the mouth of the vampire. They tried sticking swords into the grave, but to no avail. Whole families were about to pack up their belongings and move to the neighbouring islands of Syros and Tinos. So finally it was decided to cremate the entire vampire corpse.

On January 1st, 1701, the corpse was taken to the beach and cremated.

The Date:

We have been given an exact date here, January 1st, 1701.

The Place:

The story is said to have taken place on the Greek island of Mykonos. And the vampire corpse was burned on "the tip of Saint George's Island". Here are some links to Mykonos : www.travel-to-mykonos.com and www.mykonosgreece.com

Personal Comments:

This report comes from what looks like a reliable source.

Possible Follow-Up:

First of all, always take the trouble of finding the source book to get hold of the complete and original text. You'll be surprised to find how much a story has changed after being retold or translated. Also, there may be more to find about this case. Even though the priests took the precaution of being absent when the corpse was cremated, word of it will sooner or later have reached their superiors, who would probably not have approved of such going-ons. So it's not unthinkable that we can still unearth some report or further document about the case.

Reactions and further findings:

We also received a message from Mr. George Kalotychos, who informed us that there actually appears to be a place called Cape Vourvoulakos on Mykonos island. According to Mr. Kalotychos: "The specific place (cape) is a beach where never anyone goes - summer or winter - not even local people, its a very scary place and no one lives miles from there." Somehow this does sound like the kind of place where our vampire may have been destroyed. I asked Mr. Kalotychos for further information. This was his reply: "The Vourvoulakas Cape is located northwest somewhere between the coast line of Agios Stefanos beach, Armenistis cape and Agios Sostis monastery. There are no villages nearby and even Greek maps don't have the exact spot, but I have found it on an older local Myconos map which I don't have no more. To get the info about the exact location I did call the local police station but they didn't know. Then I have phoned up the coast yard of the island and they told me where it is situated. The only and best place to look for the exact location is to buy a map from Mykonos because it will be difficult to find it elsewhere."

2009 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed 19 November 2009
Links last checked 22 September 2008

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