London, Dec 3 : The discovery of mosses in the stomach of "Oetzi the iceman", a 5,300-year-old mummy discovered in the Eastern Alps, has led to the suggestion that he might have been carrying a prehistoric version of tin foil and an ancient first aid kit.
According to a report in the Daily Express, Scots researchers found fragments of different mosses in the stomach of Oetzi, whose remains were found in the Italian Alps in 1991.
The discovery baffled scientists, as mosses have no nutritional value and would not be eaten.
But analysis has revealed he may have used one type of moss, known to have antiseptic properties, to dress a wound.
Another type could have been used to wrap a snack of red deer and ibex meat, like a Neolithic version of tin foil.
Professor James Dickson, senior research fellow from the University of Glasgow, has revealed that Oetzi is the first glacier mummy to have fragments of mosses in his intestine.
"Mosses are not nutritious or palatable, so you can't say he was eating it. My explanation is that it was in contact with the food he was carrying or perhaps wrapping it," he said.
Oetzi had suffered a deep gash on his right hand shortly before he died and a fragment of Bogmoss discovered in the stomach may have been used for its antiseptic properties.
According to Professor Dickson, "Bog mosses were used as wound dressings right up until the Second World War. We don't know if prehistoric people knew of these properties, but my opinion would be that they did."
Oetzi's well-preserved body, the oldest frozen mummy ever found, was discovered by hikers in 1991 on a glacier on the border between Austria and Italy.
The mummy has given scientists a crucial understanding of how prehistoric people lived, what they wore and even what they ate.
He met a violent death, with an arrow wound found to his back and evidence indicates that he may have been finished off with a mace.