When American colonists became cannibals
May 1st, 2013
06:00 PM ET
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The winter of 1609 to 1610 was treacherous for early American settlers. Some 240 of the 300 colonists at Jamestown, in Virginia, died during this period, called the "Starving Time," when they were under siege and had no way to get food.

Desperate times led to desperate measures. New evidence suggests that includes eating the flesh of fellow colonists who had already died.

Archaeologists revealed Wednesday their analysis of 17th century skeletal remains suggesting that settlers practiced cannibalism to survive.

Researchers unearthed an incomplete human skull and tibia (shin bone) in 2012 that contain several features suggesting that this particular person had been cannibalized. The remains come from a 14-year-old girl of English origin, whom historians are calling "Jane."

There are about half a dozen accounts that mention cannibalistic behaviors at that time, although the record is limited, said Douglas Owsley, division head of physical anthropology at the Smithsonian National Museum of National History.

The newly analyzed remains support these accounts, providing the first forensic evidence of cannibalism in the American colonies.

Read - Researchers: Jamestown settlers resorted to cannibalism

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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. redwingsforever

    This looks like a "Parts Unknown" episode for Anthony Bourdain!

    May 6, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
  2. Shirley U Jest

    Desperate measures in desperate times. No doubt that terrible winter gave their Thanksgiving celebration more meaning than we'll ever know (I hope). It's hard to believe that all that game, fish and oysters were depleted that they starved. Or maybe the local Indians made such ventures for food a dangerous proposition. Captain John Smith has been given little to no credit for making Jamestown a success, such as it was.

    May 2, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
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