Ötzi the Iceman
Named after the Otzal Alps where he was found in 1991, which is on the border of Austria and Italy. Also known as “Frozen Fritz” or Similaun Man. Body dated to around 3300 BCE (before common era)- that’s the 34th century BCE or 5310 years old! Earliest specimen of European Chalcolithic Age; so well preserved as the body was covered with ice soon after death. From the Copper Age (or Chalcolithic Age) which was the transition between the Neolithic (Stone) age and the Bronze Age, with an overlap of tools from each age. Believed to have died in a skirmish.
165cm tall (5ft 5 inches) and weighed about 50kg at death
Aged about 45 when he died (elderly by Neolithic standards). Because authorities did not realise Otzi’s age (they thought it was the body of a modern person who had come to misadventure in the mountains), they did not use archaeologists to exhume Otzi- instead they used a jackhammer! It was only when he was taken to a morgue that they realised his true age, but by then they had lost some of his possessions to those taking souvenirs and had also pierced his hip in the process of removal. From forensic investigation, scientists are able to tell about Otzi’s: Life and death
Age at death
Lifestyle and possible occupations
What he ate before death
Cause(s) of death
Where he originated from
Forensic science used to discover information about Otzi:
Isotopic dating of his tooth enamel (atomic structure examined). Dating and examination of pollen and foodstuffs in his stomach/clothes/in possessions Medical imaging (x-ray and MRI etc.)
-DNA analysis used to determine his ancestry
Study of some soldier’s bodies that were found in the area dating back to 1918 who were also frozen- it is hoped study of their bodies would provide information on how the ice has affected Otzi
What we know from forensic investigation of Otzi:
From intestinal analysis we know that he ate some goat meat (chamois) and some red deer in 2 separate meals with his last meal about 8 hours before he died. He had also eaten some grains and seeds (possibly bread), roots and fruits including sloes (a plum like fruit from the blackthorn tree).
Pollens in the earlier meal confirm that they were eaten in a conifer forest at a lower altitude, and the freshness of this pollen suggests that Otzi died in the spring. The grains would have been harvested in summer (and thus stored) and the sloes in autumn (stored again?).
He suffered from Whipworm infestation
His body was turned over just after his death or as he was dying as shown by the position of his arm.
Otzi’s hair had high levels of arsenic and copper which led to speculation that he smelted copper. He also had an axe made from near pure copper to support this smelting theory.
Examination of the one finger nail recovered showed that Otzi had been sick 3 times in 6 months and had last been ill for about 2 weeks around 2 months before his death.
Otzi had multiple tattoos around his joints and spine and x-rays show he had arthritis. There is speculation that the tattoos may have been acupressure points or that they tattoos were put there for medicinal purposes of some type.
Examination of leg and hip bones suggest that Otzi was accustomed to walking over hilly terrain leading to speculation that he was a shepherd or trader.
Otzi had multiple tattoos around his joints and spine and x-rays show he had arthritis. The tatoos are on known acupressure points. There is speculation that the tattoos may have been for medicinal purposes. Clothes and possessions
Waterproof shoes that were quite sophisticated (made with bear skin soles and deer skin tops). These were lined with grass for insulation. A woven grass cloak, leggings, loin cloth, coat and a bearskin hat. Sloe berries.
2 different types of funghi- 1 was probably medicinal and the other tinder to start a fire. Copper axe.
14 arrows- some unfinished...
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