News & Opinion | July 16, 2018 5:00 am

Otzi the Iceman Did Not Adhere Strictly to the Paleo Diet

He died with a belly full of fatty meat, among other things.

otzi the iceman
The famous Iceman, back to Italy after have been analysed by the scientists of University of Innsbruck on 27 March 1998, Bolzano, Italy. (Gianni GIANSANTI/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The ancient Alpine traveler known as Otzi, often simply referred to as the Iceman, did not just scrape by on a diet of foraged grasses and berries. Though he perished roughly 5,300 years ago on a mountain in the Eastern Alps of Italy, Otzi died with a belly full of fatty meat, some whole seeds from the einkorn wheat plant and even a bit of goat’s milk or cheese, eaten just a few hours before he died, shows a new comprehensive study. The Iceman may have set off from home with a mobile meal of smoked or dried meat wrapped in a fern.

The Los Angeles Times writes that this goes against the conviction, based on an early analysis of his hair, that Otzi was a vegetarian. There were also traces of herbs, perhaps used to flavor the meat or a bread made from grains found in the analysis of his stomach contents. Close to half of what remained in his stomach was fat from the meats he consumed.