Cannibalism in ‘Old Europe’?

Archaeologists have found evidence of possible long-term cannibalism at a 7,000-year-old Neolithic settlement in what is now southern Germany.

Human sacrifice at Herxheim is a hypothesis that’s difficult to prove right now, but we have evidence that several hundred people were eaten over a brief period,” [Bruno] Boulestin says. Skeletal markings indicate that human bodies were butchered in the same way as animals.

Other researchers suggest that the people were merely cleaning up the bones of the dead for a ceremonial reburial. But vultures, etc., would do that job for free–and still do in some parts of the world.

But wait, this is Marija Gimbutas’ Old European Culture, the peaceful ancient matriarchies. Were they eating each other?

I think that it is safe to assume that prehistory was much more complicated than we imagine when we look at it through lenses of theory.

4 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Dang, now they'll know for sure – we do eat babies…

  2. Pitch313 says:

    You know, I have walked over the ground where some members of the Donner Party, trapped in a Sierra pass over a long desperate winter, ate other members of the Donner party. In 1846-47.

    Still, this sort of cannabalism was not typical or routine.

    Yes, the past was probably more complicated than we usually portray it. But it may not have been as horrible or as pleasant as we could wish.

  3. Steve Bodio says:

    Tibetans prepare bodies for "sky burial"– eating by vultures– by dismembering and chopping up the bodies (I have seen photos). Parsees in their towers of silence don't– but the bodies take months to break down even with vultures, while the Tibetans take only hours.

  4. Chas S. Clifton says:

    Steve, that Tibetan practice was in my mind, in fact, when I speculated about critters doing a better job!