Research shows that Europeans were once cannibals

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According to the recipe, the meat was to be cut into small pieces or slices, sprinkled with "myrrh and at least a little bit of aloe" and then soaked in spirits of wine for a few days.

Finally, it was to be hung up "in a very dry and shady place." In the end, the recipe notes, it would be "similar to smoke-cured meat" and would be without "any stench."

Johann Schröder, a German pharmacologist, wrote these words in the 17th century. But the meat to which he was referring was not cured ham or beef tenderloin. The instructions specifically called for the "cadaver of a reddish man ... of around 24 years old," who had been "dead of a violent death but not an illness" and then laid out "exposed to the moon rays for one day and one night" with, he noted, "a clear sky."

In 16th- and 17th-century Europe, recipes for remedies like this, which provided instructions on how to process human bodies, were almost as common as the use of herbs, roots and bark. Medical historian Richard Sugg of Britain's Durham University, who is currently writing a book on the subject says that cadaver parts and blood were standard fare, available in every pharmacy. He even describes supply bottlenecks from the glory days of "medicinal cannibalism." Sugg is convinced that avid cannibalism was not only found within the New World, but also in Europe.

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