"So great was our famine, that a savage we slew and buried, the poorer sort took him up again and eat him," Captain John Smith wrote in 1624 of the scene in Jamestown, Virginia. He continued, "One amongst the rest did kill his wife, powdered her, and had eaten part of her before it was known, for which he was executed, as he well deserved. Now whether she was better roasted, boiled or carbonado'd, I know not, but of such a dish as powdered wife I never heard of."
Too soon, Captain John Smith. Too soon.
It would've also been too soon if Doug Owsley had said the same today, when the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History's Division Head for Physical Anthropology spoke at a press conference in Washington, D.C. There he and colleagues announced what they call the first clear physical evidence that there was cannibalism at the Jamestown colony. Their announcement seems to confirm written accounts like that of Captain Smith, which appeared similarly in the minutes of Virginia's General Assembly in the same year.