Colonial Americans Were Cannibals

May 2, 2013 | Julia Dawidowicz

Ah, historic Jamestowne. The very first settlement of our great colonial ancestors. The glorious Chesapeake Bay, the mighty James Fort, the abundance of lush wildlife! It must have been a wonderful place to live, save for a couple teensy kinks — like rampant disease, constant rape and pillaging, decimation of Native Americans and, apparently, CANNIBALISM.

Whether the early American colonists really feasted on each other has been an ongoing debate for some time; but now, a team of Smithsonian anthropologists have confirmed the speculations. The winter of 1609-1610, known by historians as “Starving Time,” was pretty damn gruesome — 80% of the colonists died. So we can’t really blame ’em for chowing down on the remains of their dead friends, like fourteen year old “Jane,” whose butchered remains were key to this discovery.

“The desperation and overwhelming circumstances faced by the James Fort colonists … are reflected in the postmortem treatment of this girl’s body,” said anthropologist Douglas Owsley. “The recovered bone fragments have unusually patterned cuts and chops that reflect tentativeness, trial and complete lack of experience in butchering animal remains. Nevertheless, the clear intent was to dismember the body, removing the brain and flesh from the face for consumption.”

Tween brains, you say? I wonder if my Paleo diet coach would approve.


(Photoshopped image includes a forensic facial reconstruction of “Jane” produced by StudioEIS of Brooklyn, N.Y)