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====Vampires in European folklore====
[[File: Dracula 2.jpg|200px|thumb|left|A portrait of Vlad the Impaler]]
Many cultures have myths and legends about vampires and the first known references to these beings were in Ancient Mesopotamia. These figures are very common in European legends, especially in the Balkans. Traditions about the vampire are in particular very much associated with Romania. Vampires are typically beings, who were once human, had died, and continue to exist because they are feeding on some vital force, usually the blood of the living. They are classed as a species of revenant and that is a visible ghost or spirit. Typically, they were criminals, social deviants, witches, and suicides, in life. These undead figures would haunt their old homes and remote areas. They are usually portrayed as evil figures who do harm to innocent people and often kill them, in their efforts to obtain blood <ref> Frayling, Christopher (Vampyres, Lord Byron to Count Dracula (London: Faber, 1991), p 6 </ref>
. In various folktales vampires not only killed the innocent, but they turned them into blood-suckers. There is plenty of archaeological evidence that shows that people from all over Europe took preventative measures to ensure that the dead did not return to haunt the living as vampires, such as driving stakes into the heart of a corpse or placing stones in their mouths. Many historians believe that the folk beliefs of vampires arose because of misunderstandings or ignorance of what happened to the body after death. Beliefs in vampires was once pervasive especially in Eastern Europe and there were many instances of mass hysteria brought about by the fear of the undead who drank the blood of the living. Indeed, in the past many innocent people were brutally executed during these hysterias because they were alleged to be vampires, even as late as the eighteenth century <ref>Frayling, p 11</ref> .