Archaeology

Iceman Ötzi's Last Meal Was 'Stone Age Bacon'

The famous frozen mummy apparently ate a slice or two of dried goat meat before he was killed more than 5,000 years ago.

Ötzi the famous "iceman" mummy of the Alps appears to have enjoyed a fine slice or two of Stone Age bacon before he was killed by an arrow some 5,300 years ago.

His last meal was most likely dried goat meat, according to scientists who recently managed to dissect the contents of Ötzi's stomach.

"We've analysed the meat's nanostructure and it looks like he ate very fatty, dried meat, most likely bacon," German mummy expert Albert Zink said at a talk in Vienna late Wednesday.

More specifically, the tasty snack is thought to have come from a wild goat in South Tyrol, the northern Italian region where Ötzi roamed around and where his remains were found in September 1991.

Mummified in ice, he was discovered by two German hikers in the Ötzal Alps, 3,210 meters (10,500 feet) above sea level.

RELATED: Skins of 5 Different Animals Found on Ice Mummy

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

These efforts have determined Ötzi died around the age of 45, was about 1.60 meters (five foot, three inches) tall and weighed 50 kilos (110 pounds).

He suffered a violent death, with an arrow severing a major blood vessel between the rib cage and the left shoulder blade, as well as a laceration on the hand.

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.

But for all his parasites, worn ligaments and bad teeth, he was in "pretty good shape," Zink wrote in the journal Science earlier this month.

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Reconstructions of Ötzi the Iceman might have to be revised, given the new findings about his leather clothing.

Photo: Recreation of Ötzi, a 5,300-year-old male found naturally mummified and frozen in the Italian Alps. Credit: Thilo Parg, Wikimedia Commons

The Iceman's clothing and quiver were made from the skins of five different types of animals.

Photo: Recreation at the South Tyrol Museum. Credit: Wolfgang Sauber, Wikimedia Commons

The new study indicates that the leather was processed, perhaps by scraping, tanning and heating. By definition, leather is a material made from the skin of an animal by tanning or a similar process. Fur was not always removed from the hides, however, adding to the clothing's durability and warmth.

Photo: A replica of the clothes worn by Ötzi the Iceman made for the documentary film "Der Ötztal-Mann und seine Welt" ("Ötzi: The Man and His World"). Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Recreations such as this that depict Ötzi's shoes may require revising, since new research finds the Iceman's shoes had cow leather laces.

Photo: Replica of one of Ötzi's shoes created by Petr Hlaváček and Václav Gřešák. Credit: Josef Chlachula, Wikimedia Commons

Although Ötzi was just 45 years old when he died, probably from internal bleeding resulting from a head wound, the Iceman had a multitude of chronic health problems including rotted out teeth, heart disease, and joint issues.

Photo: Reconstruction of the Iceman. Credit: Adrie and Alfons Kennis, South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, Foto Ochsenreiter

Tattoos were found on various parts of Ötzi's body. Researchers believe that they were associated with acupuncture-like medical therapies, and may not have had visual symbolic meaning.

Photo: Tattoos on Ötzi's body. Credit: Leopold Dorfer

The assemblage of equipment associated with the Iceman as displayed at the Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy, includes from left to right: stone dagger, bows, leather quiver, tinder fungus, birch fungus and birch bark.

Photo: Objects found with Ötzi. Credit: Institute for Mummies and the Iceman