Cannibalism in the neolithic

Paola Villa, Claude Bouville, Jean Courtin, Daniel Helmer, Eric Mahieu, Pat Shipman, Giorgio Belluomini, Marilí Branca

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Cannibalism is a provocative interpretation put forth repeatedly for practices at various prehistoric sites, yet it has been so poorly supported by objective evidence that later, more critical reviews almost invariably reject the proposal. The basic data essential to a rigorous assessment of a cannibalism hypothesis include precise contextual information, analysis of postcranial and cranial remains of humans and animals, and detailed bone modification studies. Such data are available from the Neolithic levels of the Fontbrégoua Cave (southeastern France) where several dusters of human and animal bones have been excavated. The analysis of these bones strongly suggests that humans were butchered, processed, and probably eaten in a manner that dosely parallels the treatment of wild and domestic animals at Fontbrégoua.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-437
Number of pages7
Issue number4762
StatePublished - Jan 1 1986


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Cite this

Villa, P., Bouville, C., Courtin, J., Helmer, D., Mahieu, E., Shipman, P., Belluomini, G., & Branca, M. (1986). Cannibalism in the neolithic. Science, 233(4762), 431-437.