Jamestown Colony Resorted to Cannibalism

Americans all learn in school that Jamestown, Virginia, was the first permanent English settlement in the New World. We also learned that times were tough, especially the winter of 1609 in which almost 90% of the colony died. And now we have evidence in the skeleton of a 14-year-old girl that some colonists resorted to cannibalism.

“The chops to the forehead are very tentative, very incomplete,” says Douglas Owsley, the Smithsonian forensic anthropologist who analyzed the bones after they were found by archaeologists from Preservation Virginia. “Then, the body was turned over, and there were four strikes to the back of the head, one of which was the strongest and split the skull in half. A penetrating wound was then made to the left temple, probably by a single-sided knife, which was used to pry open the head and remove the brain.”

Researchers still don't know if she was murdered or had already died. The skeleton is the first physical evidence of cannibalism, although written records had described the gruesome act of desperation. Read the complete story at Smithsonian. Link  -Thanks, Perrin!

(Image credit: Smithsonian Institution/Don Hurlbert)


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This isn't the first I've heard about cannibalism during the early attempts at colonization in what eventually became the US. It seems the corporations who were intent on making money from this new land sent too many executives and not enough "blue collar types" who actually had the skills to survive. American history isn't always pretty, but is it fascinating.
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