Girl's Skeleton Confirms Cannibalism at Jamestown

Scientists say her remains bear evidence

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted May 1, 2013 11:57 AM CDT

(Newser) – Scientists say they have the first physical evidence of a grisly truth from Jamestown: Colonists in the brutal winter of 1609 resorted to cannibalism, reports USA Today. Anthropologists studying the partial remains of a teenage girl—including her skull, jaw, and leg bone—say they bear the unmistakable marks of a cleaver and knife, reports the Washington Post. She had been, for lack of a better word, butchered.

“Historians have to decide whether this type of thing happened,” says one of the Smithsonian scientists who worked on the project. “I think that it did. We didn’t see anybody eat this flesh, but it’s very strong evidence.” It's not clear whether the girl was a servant or perhaps the daughter of a colonist, or whether she was killed to be eaten or eaten after she died. Forensic scientists have re-created her face, though she will likely remain forever unidentified.

The reconstructed face of a teenage girl thought to have been cannibalized at Jamestown.   (Don Hurlbert, Smithsonian)
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