The remains of a mummified Copper Age man were discovered in a glacier in the Ötztal Alps in 1991 by two German hikers. Scientists named him Ötzi the Iceman because he was so well preserved in the ice, and he’s revealed a lot about the similarities of people today and those who lived 5,300 years ago.
New research suggests that we may even have had one of the most popular favourite foods in common: bacon.
Ötzi remains fascinating to researchers over 20 years later. His DNA was kept pretty stable in the ice, so scientists have been able to code his whole genome, and different things about his life are still being uncovered.
Teams have been able to determine that Ötzi died when he was 40 to 50 years old, and not only that, he was murdered. They’ve also worked out what he may have worn and what his voice may have sounded like.
A new study, led mummy specialist from the European Academy of Bolzano Dr Albert Zink, has taken a closer look at Ötzi’s stomach contents, which were first investigated in 2011.
Back then, researchers determined that Ötzi’s last meal consisted of goat meat and some grains, but on further inspection, Zink was able to uncover some more intriguing details. He analysed the nanostructure of the meat fibres, which indicated that the meat had been dry-cured, rather than cooked or grilled, which would have weakened the fibres, reports the Local.
Ötzi was not found with a bow and arrow, so it is unlikely that he was out hunting when he died. Zink told the Local he probably brought the meat with him from home, like a packed lunch. Raw meat would probably have spoiled pretty quickly, so it makes sense that it would have been cured.
The analysis also showed that Ötzi hadn’t eaten any cheese or dairy products as his last meal.
“It seems probable that his last meal was very fatty, dried meat — perhaps a type of Stone Age Speck or bacon,” Zink said.
As well as details about his diet, Ötzi’s stomach contained the oldest known Helicobacter pylori bacterium, according to a study published last year in the journal Science. This pathogen has been linked to the development of ulcers and gastric cancer, meaning Ötzi’s may have suffered from ulcers or stomach problems.