Scientists find cannibalism at American settlement of Jamestown

Doug Owsley, division head for Physical Anthropology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, displays the skull and facial reconstruction of 'Jane of Jamestown' during a news conference at the museum in Washington on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Scientists announced during the news conference that they have found the first solid archaeological evidence that some of the earliest American colonists at Jamestown, Va., survived harsh conditions by turning to cannibalism presenting the discovery of the bones of a 14-year-old girl, 'Jane' that show clear signs that she was cannibalized. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Doug Owsley, division head for Physical Anthropology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, displays the skull and facial reconstruction of "Jane of Jamestown" during a news conference at the museum in Washington on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Scientists announced during the news conference that they have found the first solid archaeological evidence that some of the earliest American colonists at Jamestown, Va., survived harsh conditions by turning to cannibalism presenting the discovery of the bones of a 14-year-old girl, "Jane" that show clear signs that she was cannibalized. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON — Scientists say they have found the first solid archaeological evidence that some of the earliest American colonists survived harsh conditions by resorting to cannibalism.

On Wednesday, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and archaeologists from Jamestown announced the discovery of the bones of a 14-year-old girl with clear signs that she was cannibalized.

The human remains date back to the deadly winter of 1609-1610, known as the "starving time" in Jamestown, when hundreds of colonists died. Scientists have said the settlers arrived from England during the worst drought in 800 years.

For years, there had been unconfirmed tales of starving early colonists resorting to eating dogs, mice, snakes, shoe leather and even their own dead.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features