Archaeologists are making gruesome new discoveries about the first English settlers in North America

The first English settlers to arrive in North America ate dogs to survive an extreme period of famine, according to a horrifying new study.

Researchers from the University of Iowa discovered the remains of 16 native dogs at an archaeological site in Jamestown, Virginia, strongly suggesting that 17th century settlers ate at least six canines.

Their remains showed unmistakable signs that settlers had skinned the dogs, dismembered their limbs and removed the flesh from their bones between 1609 and 1617 A.D., the team said.

The settlers turned to eating dogs before, during and after the ‘Famine’, a period when many in the community died from disease, malnutrition and violence with the native tribes.

Archaeologists found the remains of 16 native dogs and confirmed that English settlers killed them for food in the early 17th century. The canines were found in the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia

Archaeologists excavated about an acre of land within the boundaries of the James Fort and also identified the remains of settlements, including a storehouse, a kitchen, burial grounds and barracks that showed the arrival of women and children.

In the area, they recovered 181 canine teeth bones from waste dumps in abandoned occupation spaces, in a former workshop, two wells and in a construction trench for the fort’s defensive walls.

The “slaughtered dog remains… undoubtedly dates to the famine of Jamestown during the winter of 1609–1610, indicating that native dogs were eaten during this period of severe famine,” according to the author. study said.

Archaeologists said the practice was not unusual at the time.

“Although the consumption of dog meat is considered taboo in modern Western societies, there is a long history of eating dogs during periods of stress in England and other parts of Europe,” they wrote.

The Famine Period, which occurred in the winter of 1609 to 16010, killed 80 to 90 percent of the English colonists due to food shortages, contaminated water supplies and a harsh winter.

Archaeologists found 181 canine teeth bones from 16 dogs, and said at least six were eaten by English settlers between 1609 and 1617

Archaeologists found 181 canine teeth bones from 16 dogs, and said at least six were eaten by English settlers between 1609 and 1617

By the spring of 1610, only about sixty of the original settlers were still alive, and George Percy – one of the original settlers – wrote an account of what happened in the aftermath of the famine.

“Now all of us in James Town are beginning to feel that sharp pang of hunger that no one really describes except he who has tasted its bitterness.

“…After feeding on horses and other animals while they lasted, we were happy to deal with such vermin as dogs, cats, rats, and mice,” wrote Percy in excerpts of his account called “Starving Time.” archived by the National Humanities Center.

He added that the colonists turned to cannibalism as a means of survival and “digged up dead corpses from graves and ate them, and some licked the blood that had fallen from their weak fellows.”

The archaeologists reported that the dogs’ DNA was of Native American origin and showed similarities to Hopewellian, Mississippian and Late Woodland period dogs from eastern North America.

This indicated the social problems that arose between the settlers and the indigenous communities, which “suggested that complex forces were at play before, during, and after the Starvation Period that influenced the presence of these dogs in the fort and led Jamestown residents to adopt dogs consume with Indigenous ancestry,” the study said.

“Dogs with ancestry primarily from Europe suggest that British, Powhatan, or both groups kept their dogs from associating with each other to maintain specific behaviors or observable phenotypes important to that group,” lead researcher Ariane E. Thomas said. . SciTechDaily.

The high percentage of native dogs found at the Jamestown site “suggests a more complex involvement between the British and Powhatan peoples in Jamestown,” she added.

“Identifying native dogs in Jamestown suggests that this second, more complex dynamic is more representative of history.”