As it appears, cannibalism was much more widespread than previously thought, and perhaps for more complex reasons than we think. To honor the dead, for example.

Our ancestors have been eating each other for a million years or more. In fact, it seems that, down the ages, around a fifth of societies have practised cannibalism. While some of this people-eating may have been done simply to survive, in many cases, the reasons look more complex. In places like Gough’s cave, for example, consuming the bodies of the dead seems to have been part of a funerary ritual. Far from a monstrous affront to nature, cannibalism may be a way of showing respect and love for the dead, say some archaeologists.

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