Otzi, or the Tyrolean Iceman, is a 5,000 year old mummy found in a Neolithic glacier. He was found at 3,200 meters above sea level in the Alps in 1991. He is considered to be a Neolithic hunter/warrior. An attempt was made to determine the diet of this Neolithic man. The large and small intestinal contents were studied for evidence of DNA. Animal and plant contents can be differentiated by gene studies. Fungal DNA was found in the contents, also.
The authors were able to determine the DNA of the food contents of Otzi’s gastrointestinal system. Microscopic study of the food contents showed particles of muscle fiber. Otzi’s last meal was of red deer (Cevus elaphus) and, perhaps, cereals. Much of Europe seems to have been deforested by man at that time to promote the growth of red deer. The meal before his last meal consisted of ibex (Capra ibex), dicot plants and cereals.
The pollen in the colon indicates that Otzi had, recently, travelled through a subalpine coniferous forest. Pollen can enter our bodies by being carried on particles of food. Pollen, also, can enter by way of the air we breathe or drinking water. At the time of his death, Otzi’s stomach was empty of food. The food he ate had passed into the intestine. He had been shot with an arrow in the left shoulder.
At the time of Otzi, slash and burn methods were used to clear forests to grow cereals with the development of agriculture. People were omnivores. He ate both plants and animals.
CONCLUSION: DNA can be retrieved and analyzed from a frozen Neolithic man. He ate both plants and animals, mostly meat. He consumed cereal grains which were not a component of the human diet during the Paleolithic period. He may have been killed.
NOTE: The Neolithic period was the period of agriculture. During this time, there was a significant change in human diet. Thereafter, agriculturally developed cereals were consumed along with other plants and farmed meat. Omnivores eat both plant and animal products. Milk was consumed by adults in the Neolithic.
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