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6 July 2011
Iceman died after a hasty meal

Over 20 years ago the mummified body of an iceman, nicknamed Oetzi, was discovered in the ice fields in the Italian Alps. The mummified remains were dated at approximately 3,300 BCE and were of a 40 year old male. Whilst preliminary investigations were carried out at the time, scientists and anthropologists have had to wait until now to discover the full story.
     When first discovered, only analysis of the lower intestine was carried out as the stomach was not detectable. This showed what had been eaten up to 30 hours before death and revealed a diet of grains and cooked meat. But it was not until a CAT scan was carried out, 2 years ago, that the stomach was found, having shifted upwards, after death, to the general location of the lungs.
     Analysis of the contents showed, again, grains, but also partially digested meat (identified by DNA as Ibex), which had been eaten within two hours of death occuring. It was probably a rather hasty meal as bits of flies and strands of animal hair were also found, suggesting a lack of preparation.
     Probably the most interesting development was with his teeth. Once again, although the mummy had been examined extensively over the last 20 years, no evidence of tooth decay had been found and, although 40 years old, Oetzi had not lost any teeth. However, new CT scan technologies have revealed a whole range of dental diseases and problems, mainly caused by his high-carb diet, which was an indication of the changes in the Neolithic diet that were occuring at that time. Further dental analysis is being carried out by the University of Zurich (Switzerland)

Edited from Discovery News (15 June 2011), National Geographic News (23 June 2011)

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