Diet of a hunter from the past: What did the ice mummy Ötzi eat during life

(ORDO NEWS) — Ötzi the Ice Man is an unusual mummy of natural origin, which tourists accidentally stumbled upon in the Italian Alps.

The remains of a hunter who lived on Earth about 5,400 years ago still hide many mysteries and interesting details about the life of the mountain peoples of the Copper Age.

30 years ago, a group of tourists discovered a unique mummy of a frozen person, which was nicknamed Ötzi the Iceman. It was found in 1991 on the eastern side of the Italian Alps.

The remains were well preserved due to low temperatures, and radiocarbon analysis showed that the age of the mummy is 5330 years.

Ötzi was killed by an arrow in the back at the age of 45 and, apparently, hunted – his body is covered with thematic tattoos.

Man from the past

For three decades, researchers have learned many interesting details about the “stranger” from the Copper Age. He suffered from chronic joint pain, Lyme disease, periodontal disease and ulcers.

The hunter’s life was harsh: his body is covered with many scars from non-lethal wounds, of which the deep cut on his right arm stands out most clearly – Ötzi received it shortly before his death.

On the body of the mummy, various camping devices were found, many of which were very worn out.

The strangest thing is that the hunter did not have any bow or arrows with him – a sure sign that he was taken by surprise.

A team led by Frank Meikner of the Eurac Research Institute analyzed samples taken from their stomachs, where some biomolecules were still preserved.

It turned out that the hunter dined on the meat of very exotic (today) animals: a mountain goat and a red deer.

In addition, the researchers found traces of cereals and even a poisonous plant, which Ötzi apparently used as a prophylactic against intestinal parasites.

Diet of a hunter from the past What did the ice mummy Otzi eat during life 2
Fragments of animal tissues extracted from the gastrointestinal tract Ötzi

Hunter food

This food was surprisingly fatty (approximately 46% of the contents of the stomach and intestines are animal fat), which, apparently, was intentional.

Even 10% of these fats would be enough for healthy lifestyle fans today, but the hunter of the copper age, apparently, realized that fats are an excellent source of energy.

According to Meikner, “The Alpine region where Ötzi lived is located at an altitude of 3200 meters above sea level, which creates a number of specific problems for human physiology.

He needs an optimal set of nutrients to avoid a sharp drop in energy levels in the body.

Ötzi’s last meal was a perfectly balanced set of proteins, fats and carbohydrates to support him during his journey through the mountains.”

Probably, the hunter knew that he had a long journey ahead, and therefore he specially stuffed his stomach with fatty food.

However, who killed him and why remains a mystery. Whether the attack was a betrayal, an accidental ambush, or a military campaign, scientists do not know and are unlikely to ever be able to find out.


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