Otzi: the Iceman Holds Clues to Ancient Life in Europe

The recent of a finding of a 5,300 year-old stomach has yielded a revealing discovery. The stomach, extracted from the famous ice mummy Otzi, contained a strain of infectious bacteria no longer found in modern humans.

Studies completed on Otzi’s body in the 2000’s by Frank Maixner of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzan, Italy, confirmed that Otziwas murdered—likely by an arrow that lacerated a major artery. Maixner also stated that finding the bacteria in Otzi’s stomach wasn’t easy, because earlier scientists initially mistook the iceman’s colon for his stomach; however, during the time that Otzi was frozen, his actual stomach was pushed into his ribcage.

The bacteria found, known today as the bacterial strain H. pylori, infected about half of all ancient humans until hygienic advances. H. pylori followed modern humans out of Africa, by jumping from one stomach to the next.

Maixner’s study confirms that the iceman carried a particularly nasty strain of this bacteria. Maixner’s team also found traces of a protein that produces a response to inflammation, thus suggesting that Otzi died while combating a bad stomachache.

Otzi’s body was first discovered near the Italian-Austrian border in 1991. The Iceman is now the best analyzed patient in history. Otzi’s body continues to reveal clues as to how the ancient Europeans lived, looked, and died.

[Source: National Geographic ]