by MACKENZIE MATIKOINS Staff Writer
Cannibalism was suspected in the historic Jamestown settlement, but until scientific evidence was discovered in the summer of 2012, it was not proven.
A human skull and tibia were discovered at the Virginia settlement where trash had been dumped, back when the colony was in use.
This is the fourth time human remains have been found in the settlement, but the first to provide proof of cannibalism.
The bones are said to be from a 14-year-old European girl, who had arrived with the settlers in the New World in August of 1609, before everything went bad.
They came during the worst drought in 800 years, right before a terrible winter.
Several months after their arrival, the “starving time” hit, killing more than 200 settlers.
The “starving time” resulted from disease, starvation, and attack from the Native Americans. The winter had proven to be harsh, and the settlers exhausted all of their supplies. The Powhatan natives prevented the settlers from leaving the colony to get more supplies, and from getting help from Britain.
Cannibalism was the only way to keep the colony from going extinct, even though it was looked down upon then and now.
“Why did they eat each other? That’s disgusting. They could have found other things to eat,” said sophomore Victoria Marino.
The evidence of cannibalism was found on the skull, where there were knife cuts and scrapes that would have been made when removing flesh. There is also proof of the skull being opened.
Scientists say the girl was already dead when the surviving colonists decided to cut her up and eat her.
There is also written accounts of cannibalism in the settlement, one from the most famous leader, Captain John Smith.
One man was said to have killed and eaten his pregnant wife, but was then later executed.
Smith wrote, “One amongst the rest did kill his wife, powdered her, and had eaten part of her before it was known, for which he was executed, as he well deserved.”
Besides killing people and eating them, the settlers had first resorted to eating dogs, mice, cats, snakes, and whatever else they could find, even leather. There are also reports of bodies being dug up and eaten, in order to prevent starvation.
After that devastating winter, help finally arrived in May of 1610, when new supplies were brought by a ship sent from England.
What do you think about the new information about the Jamestown settlement?