550-year-old letter could reveal secrets about Dracula

Will the mythical character Dracula soon reveal his secrets? This is what Gleb and Svetlana Zilberstein, a pair of scientists who have embarked on a work of biochemical analysis of a letter written by Dracula himself, more than five centuries ago, hope.

Count Dracula as described by Bram Stocker in his novel did not exist, but his character was largely inspired by a historical figure who, for once, is very real: a warrior named Vlad Tepes, also nicknamed Vlad the Impaler. This prince of Wallachia – in the southern part of present-day Romania – especially marked the XVe century by its unspeakable atrocities. The most famous of these is still impaled by more than 25,000 people in 1460. No sharp canines or pale skin like Dracula, but the same appetite for blood it seems.

If Dracula left no traces behind him (apart from a literary masterpiece), Vlad the Impaler, he left in particular a letter written by his hand in 1475. He informs the inhabitants of Sibiu of his decision to soon settle in their city. That’s all? Not quite.

On this letter the terrible Vlad left his fingerprints, saliva and even a little sweat. A goldmine for researchers Gleb and Svetlana Zilberstein, experts in the analysis of biochemical traces left on objects by historical figures. As they explain to the Guardian, the upcoming analyzes will allow them to provide a wealth of information about the lifestyle of the famous “Dracula”, about his health and even his diet.

In the past, the pair of scientists in particular pierced the mysteries of the Russian writer Anton Chekhov – who was visibly suffering from tuberculosis and took a lot of painkillers – but also of the Briton George Orwell. To be continued.

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