Jamestown Settlers Favorite Food? — Each Other
The rumors have been around forever that the early Jamestown settlers were forced to resort to cannibalism to survive. According to a report from 1624, "Hogs, Dogs & horses that were then in the Colony, together with rats, mice, snakes, or what vermin or carrion soever we could light on, as also Toad-stools, Jewes ears, or what else we found growing upon the ground that would fill either mouth or belly.”
A dark season fell over early American settlers in the winter of 1609 and 1610, when devilish conditions made it difficult for these pioneers to find food sources. Ultimately, that winter would lead to the demise of some 240 of the 300 people living in the community of Jamestown, Virginia.
However, archeologists say the tribulations of that winter may have forcibly persuaded the surviving colonists to eat the flesh of their fellow settlers who had already perished.
This conclusion was theorized after researchers uncovered the severed extremities of a 14-year-old female that they say were buried alongside of the remains of animals. According to forensics tests, the girl, who is being called Jane, was the victim of starvation before she was cut up and used for food.
"Survival cannibalism was a last resort; a desperate means of prolonging life at a time when the settlement teetered on the brink of extinction,” said Jim Horn, vice president of research and historical interpretation at Colonial Williamsburg.
Throughout history, it has often been believed that the tales of cannibalism in Jamestown were merely a ploy to receive more funds from the British government. Yet, researchers say this discovery solidifies that colonists, indeed, had immense struggles.