Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Smithsonian: Jamestown Colonists Engaged in Cannibalism

There's probably no gravestone for this:
Douglas Owsley, the division head for physical anthropology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, presented today a forensic analysis of 17th-century human remains proving that survival cannibalism took place in historic Jamestown. The findings answer a long-standing question among historians about the occurrence of cannibalism at Jamestown during the deadly winter of 1609–1610 known as the “starving time”—a period during which about 80 percent of the colonists died.
The Jamestown Rediscovery project has been doing awesome work excavating and reconstructing the Jamestown site. They post lots of updates and field reports for anyone who is interested. I have used some of their discoveries in my own work, particularly their excavation of four grave shafts located in the chancel of the 1608 Church, which shows continuities between burial practices in 17th-century England and Virginia that were not replicated in New England.

1 comment:

Richard Badalamente said...

The book, "The Starving," which I published in 2010, deals with the incidents at Jamestown, 1609-1610.