Jane O'Brien “'Proof' Jamestown settlers turned to cannibalism” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22362831
アメリカ大陸における最初の英国殖民地であるヴァージニアのJamestown*1で、1609年から翌10年にかけての所謂Starving Timeと呼ばれる冬に飢餓からカニバリズムが行われたことは書面の記録があったが、最近国立スミソニアン自然史博物館の形質人類学者Doug Owsley*2はゴミ捨て場から発掘された14歳の少女の遺体*3の分析を通じて、カニバリズムの証拠を提出した。
"There were numerous chops and cuts - chops to the forehead, chops to the back of the skull and also a puncture to the left side of the head that was used to essentially pry off that side," Dr Owsley said. "The purpose was to extract the brain."
The marks also indicate that the tongue and facial tissue were removed.
"The clear intent was to remove the facial tissue and the brain for consumption," he said. "These people were in dire circumstances. So any flesh that was available would have been used."
The cuts to the girl's bones also indicate the work was hesitant - whoever performed the dismemberment was not a skilled butcher of animals.
It is also possible the ersatz butcher was a woman, as they made up the majority of the fort's inhabitants.
How the girl died is unknown, but the assault on her body would have taken place very soon afterwards.
"The attempt to [remove] the brain is something you would need to do very quickly because brains do not preserve well," Dr Owsley said.
Little is known about the victim apart from her age and the fact she was English. Her origin has been confirmed by comparative studies on bones in Cambridge.
Further analysis indicates she was at one time well-nourished and ate a lot of meat, a diet consistent with richer classes*4.
The Starving Time was one of the most horrific periods of early colonial history. The James Fort settlers were under siege from the indigenous Indian population and had insufficient food to last the winter.
First they ate their horses, then dogs, cats, rats, mice and snakes. Some, to satisfy their cruel hunger, ate the leather of their shoes.
As the weeks turned to months, nothing was spared to maintain life. How many of the growing numbers of dead were cannibalised is unknown. But it is almost certain the girl was not the only victim.
Relief came in the form of Lord De La Warr, who sailed into the settlement with food and new colonists. After six months of siege and starvation, only 60 of the original 300 settlers had survived.
*1:See eg. http://www.historicjamestowne.org/ http://www.historywiz.com/exhibits/jamestown-mm.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamestown,_Virginia
*2:See eg. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_W._Owsley http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=ouUMGNIAAAAJ&hl=en
*3:この発掘はJamestown Rediscovery Projectの一環として行われた。See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamestown_Rediscovery