A reconstruction of what Ötzi looed like. Credit: Thilo Parg/WikiMedia Commons

We Finally Know What ÖTzi The Iceman Ate For His Last Meal

"Stone Age bacon".

JOSH HRALA
20 JAN 2017
 

Researchers working to understand the details surrounding the life and death of Ötzi the Iceman 5,300 years ago have discovered that his last meal was a form of dried meat that they're calling Stone Age bacon.

The team says Ötzi likely had a few slices of the dried, fatty meat, which they suspect came from a wild goat in South Tyrol, Italy, before being killed by an arrow.

 

"We've analysed the meat's nanostructure and it looks like he ate very fatty, dried meat, most likely bacon," lead researcher Albert Zink said at a conference on Wednesday.

In case you're unfamiliar with Ötzi the Iceman, here’s a brief rundown of the story so far.

Back in 1991, the intact, frozen remains of an ancient hunter, was found in the Oetztal Alps in Italy by German hikers at an altitude of 3,210 metres (10,500 feet).

His corpse was completely encased in ice, which meant he'd been incredibly well preserved despite having died an estimated 5,300 years ago.

Over the years, scientists have continuously pieced together more and more about the man's life - who they nicknamed him Ötzi - and using non-invasive techniques and DNA analyses.

So far, we know that Ötzi lived to the ripe old age of 45, stood roughly 1.6 metres (5.2 feet) tall, and weighed about 50 kilograms (110 pounds).

 

Also, he was probably murdered. Based on lacerations on his hands, a wound on his rib cage, and an arrowhead in his back, researchers think that the Iceman was shot by an arrow and bled out in the mountains.

Why he was shot, who shot him, and if anyone else was with him besides his attacker is unknown.

While this is all pertinent information to understanding who Ötzi was a person, the remarkable thing is that the researchers - led by Zink and many other teams - have managed to also discover much more about other aspects of Ötzi’s life.

Back in 2016, scientists were able to share what Ötzi’s voice might have sounded like - which is actually incredibly deep and creepy.

And last year another team of researchers discovered and recreated the outfit he wore when he died.

They say that Ötzi was a fan of wearing animal skins, with his leggings being made out of goat skin, his shoe laces (yeah, he had shoe laces) being made of cow leather, and most importantly, his loincloth was made of sheep leather. He was quite stylish.

Oh, and, based on a study done in 2015, he had 61 tattoos in various places on his body, created by rubbing charcoal into fine cuts in the skin, as opposed to today’s needle-and-ink based techniques.

Now scientists have verified that Ötzi’s last meal was a form of fatty Stone Age bacon made from dried goat meat.

To figure this out, they examined the structure of the preserved meat fibres at a nanoscopic scale, and concluded that it was dried, fatty, and looks about as close to bacon as something can get without actually being bacon.

The discovery backs up a previous discovery in 2011, when researchers found that his stomach contained goat meat.

Back then, scientists weren’t sure if the meat was cooked, dried, or raw - a debate that is now appears to have been resolved.

Zink also says that Ötzi had ulcer-inducing bacteria in his gut, too, meaning that he might have suffered from stomach ulcers during his lifetime.

The findings were presented at a conference on Wednesday in Vienna, Austria ahead of publication.

Until they've been peer-reviewed, we need to take them with a grain of salt, but it's awesome that we can get this kind of insight into a man who lived and died more than 5,000 years ago.

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