Intestinal analysis sheds new light on Oetzi the Iceman

December 2nd, 2008 - 12:59 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Dec 2 (ANI): New analysis of the intestinal contents of the 5,200-year-old mummy discovered in the Eastern Alps, popularly known as Oetzi the Iceman, has shed light on his lifestyle and some of the events leading up to his death.

According to a report by Springer Media, Professor James Dickson, from the University of Glasgow in the UK, and his team, did the analysis.

By identifying six different mosses in his alimentary tract, they suggest that the Iceman may have travelled, injured himself and dressed his wounds.

The Iceman is the first glacier mummy to have fragments of mosses in his intestine.

This is surprising as mosses are neither palatable nor nutritious and there are few reports of mosses used for internal medical treatments.

Rather, mosses recovered from archaeological sites tend to have been used for stuffing, wiping and wrapping.

Dickson and colleagues studied the moss remains from the intestines of the Iceman on microscope slides, to find out more about his lifestyle and events during the last few days of his life.

Their research describes in detail the six different mosses identified and seeks to provide answers to two key questions in each case.

Firstly, where did the Iceman come in contact with each species; and secondly, how did each come to enter his alimentary tract.

In particular, the researchers suggest that one type of moss is likely to have been used to wrap food, another is likely to have been swallowed when the Iceman drank water during the last few days of his life, and yet another would have been used as a wound dressing.

One type of moss in the Icemans gut is not known in the region where the mummy was found, implying that the Iceman must have travelled.

The research teams findings are published in the December issue of Springers journal Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, which is specially dedicated to Oetzi the Iceman. (ANI)

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