Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 13–22 | Cite as

Six mosses from the Tyrolean Iceman’s alimentary tract and their significance for his ethnobotany and the events of his last days

  • James H. DicksonEmail author
  • Wolfgang Hofbauer
  • Ronald Porley
  • Alexandra Schmidl
  • Werner Kofler
  • Klaus Oeggl
Original Article


Six different mosses have been recognised in samples taken from the intestinal contents of the 5,200-year-old Iceman from the Eastern Alps. Four of the species are important in understanding the lifestyle of the man and/or bear on the events during the last few days of his life: Anomodon viticulosus, Hymenostylium recurvirostrum, Neckera complanata and Sphagnum imbricatum. The past and present chorology and habitats of the Hymenostylium are discussed in detail, as is the ethnobotany of the Sphagnum concerning both the Iceman and Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchí, the first ancient glacier body from North America.


Iceman Neolithic Archaeology Mosses Intestinal contents Austria Italy Alps 



JHD’s work on the Tyrolean Iceman is supported by the Royal Society of London, the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. Dr M. O. Hill kindly examined the fragment of Sphagnum Section Acutifolia. Useful comments were made by Dr. Heinjo During of the University of Utrecht.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • James H. Dickson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wolfgang Hofbauer
    • 2
  • Ronald Porley
    • 3
  • Alexandra Schmidl
    • 2
  • Werner Kofler
    • 2
  • Klaus Oeggl
    • 2
  1. 1.Graham Kerr Building, Institute of Biomedical and Life SciencesUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  2. 2.Institut für BotanikInnsbruckAustria
  3. 3.English Nature, Foxhold House, Crookham CommonThatchamUK

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