Here’s What Ötzi the Iceman Ate Before He Was Murdered

Jul 12, 2018

By Laura Geggel

A mere 2 hours before his grisly murder about 5,300 years ago, Ötzi the iceman chowed down on some mouthwatering morsels: wild meat from ibex and red deer, cereals from einkorn wheat and — oddly enough — poisonous fern, a new study finds.

It’s unclear why Ötzi ate the toxic fern, known as bracken (Pteridium aquilinum). But it’s possible that he used the fern to wrap his food, almost like a piece of plastic wrap, and then unintentionally ingested some of the toxic spores the fern left behind, said study co-senior researcher Albert Zink, head of the Eurac Research Institute for Mummy Studies in Bolzano, Italy.

Or perhaps Ötzi ate the fern as a type of medicine to treat his intestinal parasites, Zink said.

“It looked like he consumed it [the bracken] quite regularly, which would make it more like a kind of drug he took against the parasites,” Zink told Live Science.

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