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  • 15th century Europeans believed they had hit upon a miracle cure:

  • a remedy for epilepsy, hemorrhage, bruising, nausea,

  • and virtually any other medical ailment.

  • This brown powder could be mixed into drinks, made into salves

  • or eaten straight up.

  • It was known as mumia and made by grinding up mummified human flesh.

  • The word "cannibal" dates from the time of Christopher Columbus;

  • in fact, Columbus may even have coined it himself.

  • After coming ashore on the island of Guadaloupe,

  • Columbus' initial reports back to the Queen of Spain

  • described the indigenous people as friendly and peaceful

  • though he did mention rumors of a group called the Caribs,

  • who made violent raids and then cooked and ate their prisoners.

  • In response, Queen Isabella granted permission to capture and enslave

  • anyone who ate human flesh.

  • When the island failed to produce the gold Columbus was looking for,

  • he began to label anyone who resisted his plundering and kidnapping as a Caribe.

  • Somewhere along the way, the word "Carib" became "Canibe" and then "Cannibal."

  • First used by colonizers to dehumanize indigenous people,

  • it has since been applied to anyone who eats human flesh.

  • So the term comes from an account that wasn't based on hard evidence,

  • but cannibalism does have a real and much more complex history.

  • It has taken diverse formssometimes, as with mumia,

  • it doesn't involved recognizable parts of the human body.

  • The reasons for cannibalistic practices have varied, too.

  • Across cultures and time periods, there's evidence of survival cannibalism,

  • when people living through a famine, siege or ill-fated expedition

  • had to either eat the bodies of the dead or starve to death themselves.

  • But it's also been quite common for cultures

  • to normalize some form of eating human flesh under ordinary circumstances.

  • Because of false accounts like Columbus's,

  • it's difficult to say exactly how common cultural cannibalism has been

  • but there are still some examples of accepted cannibalistic practices

  • from within the cultures practicing them.

  • Take the medicinal cannibalism in Europe during Columbus's time.

  • Starting in the 15th century, the demand for mumia increased.

  • At first, stolen mummies from Egypt supplied the mumia craze,

  • but soon the demand was too great to be sustained on Egyptian mummies alone,

  • and opportunists stole bodies from European cemeteries to turn into mumia.

  • Use of mumia continued for hundreds of years.

  • It was listed in the Merck index, a popular medical encyclopedia,

  • into the 20th century.

  • And ground up mummies were far from the only remedy made from human flesh

  • that was common throughout Europe.

  • Blood, in either liquid or powdered form, was used to treat epilepsy,

  • while human liver, gall stones, oil distilled from human brains,

  • and pulverized hearts were popular medical concoctions.

  • In China,

  • the written record of socially accepted cannibalism goes back almost 2,000 years.

  • One particularly common form of cannibalism

  • appears to have been filial cannibalism,

  • where adult sons and daughters would offer a piece of their own flesh

  • to their parents.

  • This was typically offered as a last-ditch attempt to cure a sick parent,

  • and wasn't fatal to their offspring

  • it usually involved flesh from the thigh or, less often, a finger.

  • Cannibalistic funerary rites are another form of culturally sanctioned cannibalism.

  • Perhaps the best-known example came from the Fore people of New Guinea.

  • Through the mid-20th century, members of the community would,

  • if possible, make their funerary preferences known in advance,

  • sometimes requesting that family members gather to consume the body after death.

  • Tragically, though these rituals honored the deceased,

  • they also spread a deadly disease known as kuru through the community.

  • Between the fictionalized stories, verifiable practices,

  • and big gaps that still exist in our knowledge,

  • there's no one history of cannibalism.

  • But we do know that people have been eating each other,

  • volunteering themselves to be eaten,

  • and accusing others of eating people for millennia.

15th century Europeans believed they had hit upon a miracle cure:

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カニバリズムの簡単な歴史 - ビル・シュット (A brief history of cannibalism - Bill Schutt)

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    傅亮智 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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