Bloody Tears

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Vlad Dracula, the 15th-century Wallachian leader who became the inspiration for the famous fictional vampire, has long been shrouded in legend and myth.

Known also as Vlad Tepes or “Vlad the Impaler,” the historical figure is remembered for the myriad of brutal methods he used to defend his lands – in what is now southern Romania – including impaling more than 20,000 people on wooden spikes.

Some accounts reported that he shed tears of blood, and now, a new chemical analysis of his personal letters has found some veracity in those rumors, Science Alert reported.

A research team collected three of Dracula’s letters dating to between 1457 and 1475. To extract materials without damaging centuries-old documents, they used a special film that can obtain proteins and molecules without destroying the surface.

An analysis of these films unveiled thousands of proteins and peptides, including those associated with human health such as skin and respiratory disorders.

Among these, researchers also noticed peptides associated with proteins of the retina and tears, and also blood proteins. Taking into account Dracula’s alleged bloody tears, they suggested that the historical figure suffered from a condition known as hemolacria, which manifests as the presence of blood in tears.

Still, the team noted that while the findings cannot be considered “exhaustive alone” they offer a very interesting glimpse of Wallachian life more than 500 years ago.

The authors discovered a variety of peptides, such as bacteria, viruses, and insects, including those associated with Yersinia pestis – the bacteria behind the black death.

They added that their technique could be used on other ancient documents, revealing more about the dynamics of bygone eras.

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