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New evidence: Starving Jamestown settlers resorted to cannibalism

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Archeologists said Wednesday they've solved a decades-long mystery with the discovery of evidence that shows Jamestown, Va., settlers did indeed engage in cannibalism.

The debate has raged for years. And ample evidence has surfaced in the past that settlers ate dogs, mice and snakes — and even shoe leather — to survive the harsh conditions of the Virginia winter, The Associated Press reported. But claims of cannibalism have never been proven.

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and Jamestown archeologists say they've now discovered the bones of a 14-year-old girl with clear proof she was cannibalized, AP said. Specifically, her bones show that her head and body were chopped, post-death.

The remains date to the "starving time" in Jamestown, between 1609 and 1610, forensic anthropologist Douglas Owsley said, in the AP report. And the findings mirror what Jamestown colony leader George Percy wrote in his diaries, of a "world of miseries" that led to the excavating of corpses for food, AP reported.

"Nothing was spared to maintain life," he wrote, explaining how a man first killed, then "salted" and ate his pregnant wife.

"Now whether she was better roasted, boiled or carbonado'd [barbequed], I know not, but of such a dish as powdered wife I never heard of," he wrote.

His writings were frequently dismissed by archeologists and researchers, given the lack of solid proof. But the unearthing of the girl's bones, and their condition, changes that.

"Historians have questioned, well did [cannibalism] happen or not happen?" And this is very convincing evidence that it did," Mr. Owsley said, in the AP report.

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