Microscopic and Molecular de novo Analysis of the Iceman's Stomach Content

  • Deutsch
  • English
  • Italiano
  • Project duration: November 2012 - November 2015
  • Project status:
  • Funding:
    Provincial P.-L.P. 14. Research projects (Province BZ funding /Project)
  • Total project budget: €338,000.00

The finding of the Iceman’s human mummy constitutes a real milestone, since it provides precious information and an extraordinary snapshot of Europeans’ daily life during Copper Age, an important period in human prehistory.

The proposed project aims at uniting a classical and modern molecular approach to study for the first time the Iceman’s stomach content and provide information concerning his diet and, in a longer perspective, to understand whether he suffered from gastric pathologies such as Helicobacter pylori infection. The heart of the research plan is the co-operation between scientists from different disciplines: pathologists, paleobotanists, anthropologists, molecular biologists, experts in the newest high-throughput sequencing strategies and the analysis of other biomolecules work together to recover as much information as possible from the remains of the Iceman’s last meal and reconstitute the fingerprint of his diet.

The molecular approach represents an innovative strategy to study ancient human remains, since it thoroughly analyzes also non-nucleotidic biomolecules (proteins, metabolites, lipids) and will therefore help in the improvement of new methodologies in the field of molecular archaeology.

Beyond being of great importance from a scientific point of view, the project will also help understand more about the transition from a gathering-hunting to an agricultural community, which characterized the late Neolithic.

Helicobacter pylori in ancient human remains
Maixner F, Thorell K, Granehäll L, Linz B, Moodley Y, Rattei T, Engstrand L, Zink A (2019)
Journal article
World Journal of Gastroenterology

More information:

Molecular Reconstruction of the Diet in Human Stool Samples
Maixner F (2019)
Journal article

The Iceman's Last Meal Consisted of Fat, Wild Meat, and Cereals
Maixner F, Turaev D, Cazenave-Gassiot A, Janko M, Krause-Kyora B, Hoopmann MR, Kusebauch U, Sartain M, Guerriero G, O'Sullivan N, Teasdale M, Cipollini G, Paladin A, Mattiangeli V, Samadelli M, Putzer A, Tecchiati U, Meissen J, Palazoglu M, Rausch P, Lösch S, Kim BJ, Baines JF, Gostner P, An HJ, Malfertheiner P, Egarter-Vigl E, Stark RW, Keller A, Bishop D, Wenk M, Engstrand L, Moritz RL, Bradley DG, Fiehn O, Nebel A, Oeggl K, Doble P, Franke A, Rattei T, Grimm R, Zink A (2018)
Journal article
Current Biology

Landesfachhochschule für Gesundheitsberufe Claudiana
Agilent Technologies Inc.
Karolinska Institute, Department of Microbiology
Christian-Albrechts-University, Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology
University of Vienna, CUBE - Division of Computational Systems Biology, Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science
University of Innsbruck, Faculty of Biology, Institute of Botany
Project Team
1 - 4

Niall James O'Sullivan

Team Member


1 - 7


Development and centralization of the laboratory infrastructures of the Institute for Mummy Studies ...

Duration: December 2017 - January 2022Funding:
FESR (EU funding / Project)

view all

Institute's Projects

Eurac Research logo

Eurac Research is a private research center based in Bolzano (South Tyrol) with researchers from a wide variety of scientific fields who come from all over the globe. Together, through scientific knowledge and research, they share the goal of shaping the future.

What we do

Our research addresses the greatest challenges facing us in the future: people need health, energy, well-functioning political and social systems and an intact environment. These are complex questions, and we are seeking the answers in the interaction between many different disciplines. In so doing, our research work embraces three major themes: regions fit for living in, diversity as a life-enhancing feature, a healthy society.

Great Place To Work
ISO 9001 / 2015ISO 9001:2015
ISO 27001ISO 27001:2013
ORCID Member

In order to give you a better service this site uses cookies. Additionally third party cookies are used. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Privacy Policy