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May 2, 2013

Exhibition Highlighting Survival Cannibalism in 17th-century North America Opens Friday at Historic Jamestowne

The archeological remains of the first scientifically-proven occurrence of survival cannibalism in Colonial America will go on display Friday, May 3 at Historic Jamestowne. Following the announcement by the Smithsonian, Colonial Williamsburg and Preservation Virginia today confirming the discovery, the exhibition will showcase the discovery of a partial human skull and tibia found during the excavation of an early 17th-century trash deposit at Jamestown, Va. The first time that cannibalism in the American colonies has been proven by forensic evidence, the remains will be on display alongside archeological, forensic and contextual analysis to provide visitors with a comprehensive insight into the discovery and the desperate battle for survival by the Jamestown colonists. The exhibition will also feature a facial reconstruction.

The remains, belonging to a 14-year-old European female, dubbed ‘Jane’ by the research team, date back to the “starving time” during the winter of 1609-10. They corroborate several written accounts of survival cannibalism in the American colonies as a final alternative to an extended period of sickness, starvation and Indian attacks.

‘Jane’ and the survival of Jamestowne will be on display starting Friday, May 3 at The Nathalie P. and Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium at Historic Jamestowne, England’s first permanent settlement in America

For more information about the exhibition, visit

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