Cannibalism at the Jamestown Colony

First physical evidence found

The ruins of Jamestown.     Photo: Robert Sears

Anthropologists have found the first physical evidence of cannibalism at the Jamestown colony during the bleak winter of 1609-1610.

The proof: The skeleton of a 14-year-old girl found in a cellar full of debris. Her skull, lower jaw, and leg bone bear the marks of an ax or cleaver and a knife. While the cause of her death remains unknown, the closely spaced cuts are evidence that she was dead and not struggling when they were made.

“Historians have to decide whether this type of thing happened,” Douglas Owsley, a physical anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution, told the Washington Post. “I think that it did. We didn’t see anybody eat this flesh, but it’s very strong evidence.”

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