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The Iceman's Last Meal 116

sciencehabit writes "Less than two hours before he hiked his last steps in the Tyrolean Alps 5000 years ago, Ötzi the Iceman fueled up on a last meal of ibex meat, according to a new study. Armed with Ötzi's newly sequenced genome and a detailed dental analysis, scientists have also found that the Iceman had brown eyes (not blue, as commonly assumed) and probably wasn't much of a tooth brusher. Dental analysis shows that the Iceman suffered a blunt force trauma to two teeth — possibly a blow to the mouth — at least several days before his death and was plagued by both periodontal disease and cavities."
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The Iceman's Last Meal

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  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak@yaTOKYOhoo.com minus city> on Monday June 20, 2011 @05:31PM (#36506080) Homepage Journal

    There's claims that he may have been moved after death and that he may have been killed in or around a settlement off the Alps.

    That aside, the continuing research is building up an amazing picture. I assume they've done the strontium isotope testing on the teeth to locate exactly where he was originally from.

    What's more, glaciers in the Alps and across Scandanavia are releasing enormous amounts of organics, allowing for a much better picture of the time to be built. The main concern had by archaeologists is that the amount they're able to collect (due to really insignificant resources) is tiny compared to what's actually being released. Cloth and wood, when released by a glacier, will rot extremely quickly if efforts are not made to preserve it (not the seconds shown in Indiana Jones IV, but months to maybe a year or so) but may be removed and destroyed/buried by mud, animals, build-up of the terminal morraine, etc, long before that.

    What we do have, though, is a picture of an era within that area that is incredibly comprehensive. We only know about the use of colour in early mediterranian clothes because X-Ray fluorescence on Greek and Roman sculptures reveals the paints used. We actually have dyed cloth from Otzi's time. We know the Romans loved wine and beer, from their writings and from residue in containers, but we've actually found seeds in the process of being malted in German and France again contemporary with Otzi along with other ingredients in their raw form. Also from that era, we have found doors that are painted and have latches, ropes, longbows, shoes and other artifacts, most of which are either completely or almost completely intact. That is impressive.

    Provided more enthusiasts in Europe go out, find, salvage as necessary, and report organics to make up for the lack of archaeological resources, we are quite capable of building a picture of Bronze Age and Iron Age Europe that is more comprehensive than our knowledge of early-to-mid Medieval times.

  • by pluther ( 647209 ) <`ten.asu' `ta' `rehtulp'> on Monday June 20, 2011 @06:28PM (#36506646) Homepage
    Human teeth really suck that much.

    Teeth found as least as far back as Neanderthal are almost universally worn flat in anyone who survived to adulthood. Also, abscesses, often wearing away bone all the way up into the sinuses, are very common in pleistocene remains from the Americas. (The individuals must have been in constant pain for years. Ouch.)

    We've also found a lot of teeth that were badly decayed, and forcibly extracted. Sometimes in pieces. Ice age dentistry wasn't pretty.

  • by LongearedBat ( 1665481 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @12:47AM (#36509248)

    Honey is not antiseptic due simply to a high sugar rate.

    This page says that honey is antiseptic in various ways [worldwidewounds.com] and that some types of honey are more antiseptic than others. And this research [sciencedirect.com] seems to suggest that a part of the antibacterial activity might be of plant origin and the major part of the antibacterial activity of honeydew honey is of bee origin.

    Put simply: It's complex, and we don't know it all yet.

    Medical grade types of honey are still being discovered [medicalnewstoday.com]. "Medical grade honey"? Yes, this article [springerlink.com] claims that eight species of problematic wound pathogens, including those with high levels of innate or acquired antibiotic resistance, were killed by 4.0–14.8% honey , meaning that they're effective even when diluted.

    It's an intersting read, especially the 1st article.

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