An impressive personality: customers of Mühlenchemie admire Ötzi, the museum’s new eye-catcher. 
Photos courtesy of the FlourWorld Museum.
AHRENSBURG, GERMANY —It was unique from the start, of course – Mühlenchemie’s FlourWorld Museum, now the home of over 3,400 flour sacks from all the corners of the world. But since the official opening of the new exhibition “Flour. Power. Life” the art collection has had yet another highlight to attract its visitors: the museum presents a replica of Ötzi the Iceman, an eloquent witness to the significance of grain cultivation more than 5,000 years ago.


The FlourWorld Museum is a cultural and social project of Mühlenchemie, a global player specializing in the enzymatic standardization and vitaminization of flour and offering comprehensive advice in this field. With its FlourWorld Museum, Mühlenchemie pays tribute to all the millers of the world for the valuable work they do, day in, day out.

Whereas the emphasis of the ground floor is on the presentation of over 3,400 flour sacks from 137 countries, the new part of the exhibition – “Flour. Power. Life.” – draws the visitor’s attention to the cultural and historical aspects of flour.

“Cereals are much more than just food. They have revolutionized the development of mankind. Not until nomadic tribes began to settle and cultivate grain were advanced civilizations able to develop,” said Mühlenchemie’s owner Volkmar Wywiol, summarizing the reason for enlarging the museum into a “cereal science forum.” 

Einkorn from the Copper Age in Ötzi’s coat

The most famous representative of this Neolithic period is Ötzi the Iceman, whose mummified body, 5,300 years old, was found in the South Tyrolean Alps in 1991.

“Ötzi is an exceptional story-teller. Every millimeters of his body, every detail of his clothing and equipment, gives us information on the living conditions of the time”, said Dr. Angelika Fleckinger, head of the Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy, where the original find can be seen behind armoured glass. “The fact than grains of an ancient cereal were caught in the seam of Ötzi’s goatskin coat shows that cereals played an important role for mankind over 5,000 years ago. Cereals were essential for the survival and development of a society.”

The new exhibition “Flour. Power. Life.” invites visitors to make a journey through the cultural history of cereals. 


A closer look at the Iceman’s diet

This discovery of the grain alone would have made Ötzi a symbol of the long history of cereal cultivation. But in 2010, the Iceman presented yet another surprise: thanks to high-resolution thin-layer chromatography, scientists were able to detect Ötzi’s stomach, which had hitherto been hidden by his rib cage. An analysis of the contents of the stomach enabled a closer insight into prehistoric eating habits – and from the point of view of cereal science it held a sensation, for Ötzi’s last meal before his death permits the conclusion that men were well able to use different cereals for different purposes even thousands of years ago. A large proportion of einkorn and fragments of barley were found – both obviously prepared in different ways. Ötzi ate barley, a cereal without baking properties, in the form of a coarsely ground mush, whereas the high-gluten ancient einkorn was ground into fine flour and eaten as baked bread. Residual carbon particles were the proof.

“The diversity of the Iceman’s connection with cereals is a piece of luck for our museum. Ötzi brings it home to us that bread was eaten by our ancestors over 5,000 years ago, and that they were familiar with milling and baking, using the most elementary techniques,” said Volkmar Wywiol, revealing his enthusiasm for the museum’s latest acquisition.

Cereals were already part of Ötzi’s diet: researchers found grains of the ancient cereal einkorn in the fur of his coat. 


The only replica of Ötzi anywhere in Germany

That the FlourWorld Museum is able to show Germany’s only replica of the Iceman is due to friendly cooperation with the Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano. The copy in Wittenburg was based closely on the original body, reconstructed as if alive using a CT scan of the skeleton.

Artistically staged, the Ötzi replica leads visitors to the museum to the motto of the exhibition: “Flour. Power. Life.” In order to continue the cultural history of cereals logically and impressively, the new scientific forum will gradually be extended to include the topics: cereals and religion, industrialization and nutrition and genetic engineering.