Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences
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The omnivorous Tyrolean Iceman: colon contents (meat, cereals, pollen, moss and whipworm) and stable isotope analyses

James H. Dickson

James H. Dickson

Division of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK

[email protected]

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,
Klaus Oeggl

Klaus Oeggl

Institut für Botanik, Universität Innsbruck, Sternwartestrasse 15, A-4020 Innsbruck, Austria

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,
Timothy G. Holden

Timothy G. Holden

Headland Archaeology Ltd, 78 Albion Road, Edinburgh EH7 5QZ, UK

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Linda L. Handley

Linda L. Handley

Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie DD2 5DQ, UK

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Tamsin C. O'Connell

Tamsin C. O'Connell

Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford, 6 Keble Road, Oxford OX1 3QJ, UK

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and
Thomas Preston

Thomas Preston

Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, Rankine Avenue, East Kilbride, Glasgow G75 0QF, UK

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Published:https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2000.0739

    The contents of the colon of the Tyrolean Iceman who lived ca. 5300 years ago include muscle fibres, cereal remains, a diversity of pollen, and most notably that of the hop hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia) retaining cellular contents, as well as a moss leaf (Neckera complanata) and eggs of the parasitic whipworm (Trichuris trichiura). Based almost solely on stable isotope analyses and ignoring the work on the colon contents, two recently published papers on the Iceman's diet draw ill-founded conclusions about vegetarianism and even veganism. Neither the pollen nor the moss is likely to have been deliberately consumed as food by the Iceman. All the available evidence concerning the Iceman's broad-based diet is reviewed and the significance of the colon contents for matters other than assessment of food intake is outlined.