Nestled in the dramatic Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, UK, there’s a roomy limestone cave called Gough’s Cave where a few generations of people lived about 14,700 years ago.
They littered the floor with the remnants of their meals, leaving hundreds of bones behind for archaeologists to find. Now, scientists have analyzed these bones and discovered that some of them are from six separate human beings.
And they bear the distinct marks of ritual cannibalism.
Natural History Museum of London scientist Silvia Bello and her colleagues write in PLoS One about the find.
The bones came from a child, two adolescents, two adults, and one elderly adult.
All showed evidence of butchery, which leaves characteristic marks behind when sharp tools are used for defleshing.
The bones were also covered in human tooth marks from biting and gnawing, and some had been broken open for their marrow.
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