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What lies beneath the Transylvanian castle caught ‘Dracula’?

The bloodthirsty Vlad the Impaler may have been caught in this Transylvanian castle.
(Shutterstock)

WASHINGTON — A historic Transylvanian castle that may have once imprisoned Vlad the Impaler — most likely the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula — still stands today. But what lies underneath?

By centuries of rebuilding and additions, archaeologists were not sure where the castle of the original foundations. [24 Amazing Archaeological Discoveries]

However, new research using radar scans of the ground under the structure is revealed what is under the building and the impressive façade. The findings were presented on Wednesday (Dec. 12) here at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Castelul Corvinilor — also known as Corvin Castle of Hunedoara Castle or Hunyadi Castle began as a fortress built in the centre of Transylvania (now Romania). The structure of the oldest stone fortifications date from the 14th century, and the transformation of the fortress into a castle was well underway by the 15th century, according to the lead researcher Isabel Morris, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Civil and environmental engineering at Princeton University in New Jersey.

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In the 15th century, the bloodthirsty despot Vlad III, prince of Wallachia, also known as Vlad the Impaler, was allegedly imprisoned in the Castle of Corvin by the Hungarian Gov. John Hunyadi (Ioan de Hunedoara), who oversaw the castle of the first expansion, according to the Romanian tourism website Rolandia. Two extensions to the castle, in the 17th and 19th century, followed Hunyadi’s efforts. Consequently, the building is a hodgepodge of construction from different periods, Morris said. It has also been the subject of numerous excavations; however, the maps of the site are in conflict, and much of the archaeological data is lacking, the presentation of challenges to scientists, exploring the castle today, Morris explained. For this reason, that she and her colleagues chose ground-penetrating radar (GPR) for performing surveys.

“To do a good job with our reconstruction, we need to know where all these pieces are,” she told Live Science. The scans helped the researchers to identify an administrative complex, built in the 17th century, Morris said.

The radar also revealed places where parts of the castle were held by the rock, and supported by the built man-made structures.

“This is important forward for the preservation of this exciting historic site,” Morris said. Already reconstructed rooms in the castle from the depths beneath a torture chamber with a model of a unfortunate victim was bound and suspended from the ceiling, but it is unknown whether the grim room once housed the infamous Vlad the Impaler.

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Originally published on Live Science.

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