First Physical Evidence Of Cannibalism Found At Jonestown

When settlers moved into American colonies, including places like Jamestown and Roanoke, life wasn’t exactly a picnic. Settlers had to be taught survival methods, including farming, and during one winter, accounts have stated some Jamestown settlers even resorted to cannibalism. Those stories now have evidence to back them, after the skeleton of a 14-year-old girl was found in a cellar that was once home to some very hungry Americans.

Fragments of the young woman’s body were found back in August of last year, during a dig that was put together as part of the Jamestown Rediscovery archaeological project. The girl’s skull, lower jaw and leg bone were found during the dig and each show telltale signs that the girl’s body had been rudimentarily hacked up for the purposes of eating. According to The Washington Post, this is the first time evidence of cannibalism from the era has actually been unearthed. Before, scientists, historians, and anthropologists have had to rely on written accounts.

Those written accounts are fairly vast, however, and populated with horrific tales. There was a lot of death during the winter of 1610. Three hundred residents lived in the area in November of 1609, and by the time the winter was over that number had fallen to only 60. It was called “the starving time,” and some of those who didn’t starve resorted to exhuming dead bodies in order to eat them. One man even killed his wife, chopped her up, and salted her remains. He, however, was put to death for the act.

With modern technology, scientists were able to put together a reconstruction of what the girl looked like during the “starving winter” when she died. They will be put on display, along with her remains at the Archaearium, a museum at the Jamestown Fort. If nothing else, it should be a great reminder that what is now horror movie fodder was once a terrifying reality.

Image Credit: Washington Post

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

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