The famous 5,300-year-old mummy named Ötzi is making headlines yet again. Researchers have recently taken a deep look at this male mummy’s tummy and revealed that he most likely ate a cured meat before he was killed in the Ötztal Alps. Interestingly, scientists now claim that Ötzi probably ate a prehistoric brand of goat bacon as a part of his last meal.
Research Into Ötzi’s Stomach
Researchers started looking at Ötzi’s stomach way back in 2011. Dr. Albert Zink, a mummy specialist at the European Academy of Bolzano, led this particular study. As researchers began their studies, they found that the Stone Age man ate both goat and grains before his death. It wasn’t until Professor Zink took a deeper look at the nanostructure of the food’s fibers that he discovered this goat meat was dry-cured.
Previously, most scientists just assumed the meat must have been grilled or cooked. Since this goat grub was dry-cured, Dr. Zink proposed that the Stone Age Man probably brought the food with him from his home village. In a statement to the press, Professor Zink said Ötzi’s last meal was a “very fatty, dried meat—perhaps a type of Stone Age Speck or bacon.”
More thorough analysis of Ötzi’s stomach revealed that he ate no cheese or dairy products with the meat. Scientists also believe that Ötzi most likely had serious health issues with his stomach. Using genomic sequencing and non-invasive diagnostics, scientists revealed Ötzi had the Helicobacter pylori bacterium in his stomach. This bacterium is connected with both gastric cancer and stomach ulcers.
Brief History Of Ötzi the Stone Age Man
Ötzi was first brought to the world’s attention in 1991. That’s the year two German hikers discovered him encased in a glacier while hiking the Ötztal Alps, which are located between Italy and Austria. This mummy was found approximately 3,210 meters above sea level.
Researchers were stunned at how well preserved this Copper Age mummy was. They all decided to name him “Ötzi the Iceman” both in honor of the Ötztal Alps where he was found, and to highlight the fact that he was so well maintained within the ice.
Scientists are still in awe of Ötzi, mainly because his DNA is extremely stable and they can run numerous tests on him. Geneticists have already scanned a full code of Ötzi’s genome, and new data about his life is coming out almost every single year.
It was discovered over the years that Ötzi was most likely a man between the ages of 40 and 50. Ötzi was discovered without a bow or arrow, which indicates that he wasn’t out hunting at the time of his death. Scientists believe Ötzi was deliberately murdered.
Some scientists believe they can even give us a good sense of how Ötzi’s voice sounded and what clothes he wore when he was alive. A few pictures of what researchers believe Ötzi would have looked like are floating around the Internet.
How This Information Helps Researchers
Besides providing the modern world with a fascinating tidbit about prehistoric bacon, this study actually helps both scientists and historians get a better sense of the time in which Ötzi was alive. For example, the discovery of Helicobacter pyloriis helping researchers discover the migration patterns around Europe some 5,300-years ago. The H. pylori strain in Ötzi’s stomach was actually shared with Asians, not North Africans.
This indicates tribes from Europe didn’t interbreed with Africans at this point in history. Yoshan Moodley, a biology professor at University of Venda in South Africa, said that we can now be sure the migrations which brought the African strain of Helicobacter pylori into Europe “had not occurred…by the time the iceman was around.”
These and other discoveries from Ötzi’s stomach are giving researchers around the world a clearer picture of Europe during the Copper Age.