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

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  • Project duration: -
  • Project status: finished
  • 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.

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

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:

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

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

Duration: - Funding: FESR (EU funding / Project)

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