Ritual cannibalism occurred in England 14,700 years ago | Science News

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Ritual cannibalism occurred in England 14,700 years ago

Gnaw and butcher marks found on human leg, rib, other bones

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1:39pm, April 24, 2015
leg bone

CANNIBAL CHEW  Human tooth marks and pounding damage (in boxed area) on a 14,700-year-old human leg bone excavated from a British cave indicate that ritual cannibalism was practiced there, researchers say.

A grisly ritual, at least by modern standards, played out in a British cave about 14,700 years ago.

Hunter-gatherers took the bodies of at least six of their deceased comrades to what’s now called Gough’s Cave and ate them as part of a burial rite, say biological anthropologist Silvia Bello of the Natural History Museum in London and her colleagues. Microscopic analyses show that these bodies, presumably of individuals who died of natural causes, were butchered much like those of nonhuman animals found in the same cave, Bello’s team reports April 15 in the Journal of Human Evolution.

Human tooth marks consistent with chewing appear on human ribs and other lower-body bones from Gough’s Cave, as do stone-tool incisions. Limb bones and other skeletal parts were broken with pounding stones to obtain marrow, the researchers contend.

A Bello-led team

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