Remains of a ’female vampire’, identified by the clay brick that had been jammed into her mouth after death. The brick is thought to have been used to prevent the woman feeding on victims of a plague which swept through the city in the 16th Century.
Experts said the discovery supported the medieval belief that vampires were behind the spread of plagues like the Black Death.
The skeleton was unearthed in a mass grave from the Venetian plague of 1576 - in which the artist Titian died - on the small island of Lazzaretto Nuovo in the Venice lagoon.
Situated around two miles north east of Venice, the grave was used as a sanatorium for plague sufferers.
Matteo Borrini, of the University of Florence, said: “This is the first time that archaeology has succeeded in reconstructing the ritual of exorcism of a vampire. This helps… authenticate how the myth of vampires was born.”