What Did This Ice Mummy Have For Dinner?

Scientists work out the final meal of a 5,300 year old mummy.

ore than 5300 years after he died, scientists have worked out what the world's most famous ice mummy ate for his last meal. Here’s a hint: it wasn’t a burger.

An Australian scientist was among the team of 41 researchers from around the globe who analysed well-preserved compact pieces of food in the stomach of the mummy known as Otzi, whose frozen remains were found in the Italian Alps in 1991.

Their study found Otzi's final meal was high in fat, with traces of red deer and ibex - a type of wild goat - in his stomach along with einkorn wheat and a type of toxic fern. Which sort of sounds like Otzi’s might have eaten a bespoke single source alleyway café.

Nearly half his stomach contents were fat, quite possibly from having eaten ibex, which could have been smoked before Otzi ate it, given that charcoal particles were also in his stomach.

Otzi's high-fat diet could have contributed to him having developed hardened arteries, something that was discovered during a previous study of his remains.

The scientists were initially surprised by the amount of fat in Otzi's stomach, but say it makes sense given he lived in a cold and high-altitude environment where high-fat foods would have been a valuable source of extra calories to help him survive. The scientists also cannot rule out that the excess fat was because it was the ice mummy’s cheat day.

More puzzling though was the presence of toxic bracken, which the scientists suspect Otzi used either to wrap food in to eat or as a herbal medicine to help ease tummy pain possibly caused by parasites in his gut.

Previous tests on Otzi's remains revealed he was 45 when he was murdered, with an arrowhead having pierced his left shoulder, causing him to bleed to death.

When he died his stomach was full of food, meaning he probably ate shortly after he was attacked or was eating when the arrow hit, which is the quickest way to ruin a good meal.

  • with AAP