5,000 Years Ago: The First First Aid?

Scientists may have just discovered some of the earliest use of first aid. They’ve found that Ötzi, the 5,000-year-old man found frozen in ice, may have dressed his own wounds.

How do they know this? They looked in his digestive tract and found traces of a bog moss that has been known for centuries as a useful wound dressing. The speculation is that Ötzi – injured by an arrow in  his shoulder and a deep cut in his hand – dressed his wounds and then had some residual moss stuck to the dried blood on his fingers. (I know, ew, but you’re used to hearing about blood from us, right?) Then when he ate his food he accidentally ingested some of that moss along with it. For full details read this WIRED post.
It’s a pretty cool discovery because it shows just how far back in history our medicinal skills go. It may not be the first first aid, but it’s the oldest we know about so far. 
But of course, if you’re researching the history of organized first aid you will soon come accross the names of Henry Dunant and the Red Cross. Speaking of which, I don’t know that we’ll be offering Bog Moss First Aid anytime soon, but you can sign up for some modern day classes here.


  • speaking of bogs and scientific discoveries…i read on the bus today (in this awesome book on anatomy called adam’s navel) that officials somewhere in Europe unearthed a body in a bog that was able to be fingerprinted…2,000 years later! i guess there’s this substance called humic acid that preserved the skin tissue over all those years. incredible stuff.

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