DNA tests show that everyone’s favourite semi-mummified prehistoric mountaineer had brown eyes, lactose intolerance and type O blood. In other words, he lacked three typically European traits. Mind you, he’s in the company of plenty of contemporary Europeans.
Oetzi was not a paleolithic man, but rather a prehistoric neolithic kind of guy who lived in a period of transition from eating wild foods to farmed ones. At the hour of his apparent murder by bow and arrow, he had both kinds of grub in his belly. According to Wikipedia, his diet was something like an urban hipster’s: He ate free-range game for meat, he carried around seeds and fruit kernels as a hiking snack, and his bread was made from what I guess we’d now call heirloom strains of grain …
Analysis of Ötzi’s intestinal contents showed two meals (the last one consumed about eight hours before his death), one of chamois meat, the other of red deer and herb bread. Both were eaten with grain as well as roots and fruits. The grain from both meals was a highly processed einkorn wheat bran, quite possibly eaten in the form of bread. In the proximity of the body, and thus possibly originating from the Iceman’s provisions, chaff and grains of einkorn and barley, and seeds of flax and poppy were discovered, as well as kernels of sloes (small plumlike fruits of the blackthorn tree) and various seeds of berries growing in the wild. Hair analysis was used to examine his diet from several months before.
Oetzi is especially interesting to me as he was discovered in northeastern Italy, a mere 164 kilometres from where my grandfather was born. For all I know, he could be an ancestor.
And hey, I just had flax seeds at lunch, too.