Scientist says Ötzi’s last meal was Stone Age cured meat


A scientist has revealed that the last meal that Ötzi the Iceman ate was dry-cured meat – a type of snack now known as Speck in Austria and South Tyrol.

Scientist says Ötzi's last meal was Stone Age cured meat
Researchers examine Oetzi’s stomach bacteria [Credit: EURAC/Marion Lafogler]

Ötzi is the name given to a 5,300-year-old mummy found frozen in a European glacier in 1991. He was killed by an arrow when he was between 40 and 50 years old and hiking across the Ötztal Alps between modern-day Italy and Austria.

Researchers thawed his body and have been able to test the contents of his stomach. Mummy specialist Albert Zink from the European Academy of Bolzano said he was able to analyse the nanostructure of meat fibres from a mountain goat found in Ötzi’s stomach – indicating that the meat was raw and had been dry-cured, and not cooked or grilled, which would have weakened the fibres.

He added that Ötzi did not have a proper hunting bow with him, and probably carried the dried meat with him from his home, as raw meat would have quickly gone bad.

Scientist says Ötzi's last meal was Stone Age cured meat
Oetzi at find site, September 1991 [Credit: © Paul Hanny]

Further analysis of his stomach contents showed that he had not eaten cheese or dairy products, just meat. “It seems probable that his last meal was very fatty, dried meat – perhaps a type of Stone Age Speck or bacon,” Zink said. As Ötzi had hiked down from the South Tyrolean side of the Alps, it’s likely his provisions came from there.

Ötzi was discovered by two German hikers in the Ötztal Alps, 3,210 metres above sea level.

Scientists have used hi-tech, non-invasive diagnostics and genomic sequencing to penetrate his mysterious past.

As part of their latest discoveries, Zink’s team also found that Ötzi had an ulcer-inducing bacteria and may have suffered from stomach aches.

Source: The Local [January 19, 2017]