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Dracula's Cannonballs Unearthed

Updated: Jun 12, 2019

Cannonballs used during Vlad the Impaler’s 15th-century battle with the Turks found

During excavations in May of 2019 of the ruins of the Zishtova Fortress in Bulgaria, an archaeological team excavating the site unearthed a number of cannonballs that were used by an early form of cannon called a “culverin.”

Based on their age, the researchers believe they were used by the Wallachian commander Vlad Tepes III, the historical inspiration for Bram Stoker’s fictional vampire Dracula, during his battle against the Ottoman Turks in 1461.

Vlad spent the better part of his life at war with the Turks, who controlled much of the surrounding area. But it was during the winter of 1461-62 that Vlad's forces managed to capture—and briefly hold—Zishtova Fortress. Since he apparently didn’t immediately return to Wallachia (a region north of the Lower Danube and south of the Southern Carpathians in Romania), it is believed that he likely lived in the castle for a few months afterward.

More commonly known as Vlad the Impaler, the Wallachian leader was known for his unusual acts of cruelty, especially his use of “longitudinal impalement,” an execution technique that he watched the Ottomans use at the siege of Constantinople in 1453. Even so, Vlad Tepes is considered a folk hero in Bucharest to this day.


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