Newly discovered human bones prove the first permanent British settlers in North America turned to cannibalism over the cruel winter of 1609-10, US researchers have said.We don't know the name, and the scientists involved apparently didn't find the usual British pub-sign board hanging outside the eatery that they excavated. But that, in itself, was not the critical discovery. No, the critical discovery was about the cookery. They were cannibals!
|Early EuroAmerindian fusion cuisine|
(from the cited BBC story)
Actually, we don't mean to make light of the famine that apparently led to the cannibalism that has just been announced. That, and all the suffering and death, and indeed the decision to eat their kin were surely horrific. But it is odd that, for some reason, despite all the stuff we are willing to eat, including some of our closely related species friends, like cows, deer, goats, pigs (and undisclosed horsemeat now and then), we seem particularly squeamish about consuming two sorts: insects, and people. For insects, maybe it's the crunch that seems disturbing. In any case, cannibalism may for some reason be the ultimate horror, since we don't seem so squeamish about bombing, warring, shooting each other, and other similarly trivial acts.
This is not new. Cannibalism drew horrified breaths at least back into the middle ages where, on medieval maps, unvisited locations referred to as Terra Ingognita were pictured as inhabited by cannibals. It was occasionally mentioned in the classics (though it is not included in a Roman cookery book that we have). Interestingly, even if the eaten were enemies, we recoil.
As far as the science goes, we just have to wonder about the reason for the shock.