Some of America’s first settlers turned to cannibalism, ‘powdered wife’ to survive, scientists say
Scientists revealed Wednesday that they have found the first solid archaeological evidence that some of the earliest American colonists at Jamestown, Virginia, survived harsh conditions by turning to cannibalism.
For years, there have been tales of people in the first permanent English settlement in America eating dogs, cats, rats, mice, snakes and shoe leather to stave off starvation. There were also written accounts of settlers eating their own dead, but archaeologists had been skeptical of those stories.
But now, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and archaeologists from Jamestown are announcing the discovery of the bones of a 14-year-old girl that show clear signs that she was cannibalized. Evidence indicates clumsy chops to the body and head of the girl, who appears to have already been dead at the time. (The Bettman Archive)
I know this shouldn’t be exciting to me because of how horrifying it would be to be reduced to starvation so extreme you eat your own to survive, but this is why archaeology is so great. People lie, but things can tell the truth.