Are you hungry?

July 24, 2008 at 1:05 pm | Posted in Maps | Leave a comment
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I found this curious map thanks to Strange Maps – one of the most curious blogs ever, by the way – last week. Of course it can not be considered as something rigurous, but it is funny to take a look at it.

The Cannibal Map of the World

Cannibalism is believed to have been practised by the Neanderthals and, in a more or less ritualistic context, by many ancient (modern) human cultures the world over. The object of the practice seems not to have been hunger so much as power – eating others is the ultimate way of establishing dominance over them, and/or acquiring their strength.

This map, from the German/Austrian publisher A. Hartleben, dating from the early 20th century by the look of it, presents a map of the range of anthropophagy, both contemporary (in red) and historical (in yellow).

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The whole of Asia is blighted only by the past sins of the Ostiaks, a Siberian tribe and – bet the Dalai Lama never brags about this – the Tibetans.

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Anthropophagy was shockingly widespread in North America (according to this map at least), with a continuous swathe of territory marked by the practice, ranging from the east coast (Algonquins, Iroquois) through the Midwest (Chippeway, Dakota) to the west coast (Oregon peoples). Other areas were to be found in Texas (Apache), Louisiane (Atacapa) and Florida.

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It should be remembered that cannibalism probably was over-reported – people in previous centuries being as fascinated by the taboo as we are – and often used as a propaganda tool: cannibalism providing the ultimate yardstick for barbarity, and the ideal excuse to subjugate the peoples accused of it.

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