Originally published 05/06/2013
James Horn is the vice president for research and historical interpretation at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and one of the scholars involved in the recent discovery of Jane’s remains. He is the author of “A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America.”IN the bitterly cold winter of 1607, Capt. John Smith was captured by a large war party of Pamunkey Indians on the banks of the Chickahominy River, in what is now Virginia. Smith was led by his captors to a nearby hunting village, where he was taken to a long house and given enough venison and bread to feed 20 men. The food he did not eat was placed in baskets and tied on a pole over his head. About midnight they set the food before him once more and then in the morning brought as much food again, which made the fearful captain, later describing his capture in the third person, “think they would fat him to eat him.”
Originally published 05/01/2013
The first chops, to the forehead, did not go through the bone and are perhaps evidence of hesitancy about the task. The next set, after the body was rolled over, were more effective. One cut split the skull all the way to the base.“The person is truly figuring it out as they go,” said Douglas Owsley, a physical anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution.In the meantime, someone — perhaps with more experience — was working on a leg. The tibia bone is broken with a single blow, as one might do in butchering a cow.That’s one possible version of an event that took place sometime during the winter of 1609-1610 in Jamestown. What’s not in doubt is that some members of that desperate colony resorted to cannibalism in order to survive....