Otzi The Iceman
Otzi the Iceman (also spelled Oetzi and known also as Frozen Fritz) is the modern nickname of a well-preserved natural mummy of a man from about 3300 BC, found in 1991 in a glacier of the Otztal Alps, near the border between Austria and Italy. The nickname comes from the valley of discovery. He rivals the Egyptian "Ginger" as the oldest known human mummy, and has offered an unprecedented view on the habits of Chalcolithic (Copper Age) Europeans.
Otzi was found by two German tourists, Helmut and Erika Simon, on September 19, 1991. The body was at first thought to be a modern corpse, like several others which had been recently found in the region. It was roughly recovered by the Austrian authorities and taken to Innsbruck, where its true age was finally discovered. Subsequent surveys showed that the body had been located a few meters inside Italian territory. It is now on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bozen-Bolzano, Italy.
The body has been extensively examined, measured, x-rayed, and dated. Tissues and gut contents were examined microscopically, as was the pollen found on his gear. At the time of his death, Otzi was a 30-to-45-year old man, approximately 160 cm (5'3") tall.
Analysis of pollen and dust grains and the isotopic composition of his teeth's enamel indicate that he spent his childhood near the present village of Feldthurns, north of Bolzano, but later went to live in valleys about 50 km further north.
He had 57 tattoos, some of which were located on or near acupuncture points that coincide with the modern points that would be used to treat symptoms of diseases that Otzi seems to have suffered from, such as digestive parasites and osteoarthrosis. Some scientists believe that these tattoos indicate an early type of acupuncture.
His clothes, including a woven grass cloak and leather vest and shoes, were quite sophisticated.
The shoes were waterproof and wide, seemingly designed for walking across the snow; they were constructed using bearskin for the soles, deer hide for top panels, and a netting made of tree bark. Soft grass went around the foot and in the shoe and functioned like warm socks. The shoes have since been reproduced by experts and found to constitute such excellent footwear that there are plans for commercial production.
Other items found with the Iceman were a copper axe with a yew handle, a flint knife with an ash handle, a quiver full of arrows with viburnum and dogwood shafts and flint heads, and an unfinished yew longbow that was taller than he was.
Among Otzi's possessions were two species of polypore mushrooms. One of these (the birch fungus) is known to have antibacterial properties, and was likely used for medical purposes. The other was a type of tinder fungus, included with part of what appeared to be a complex firestarting kit. The kit featured pieces of over a dozen different plants, in addition to flint and pyrite for creating sparks.
In 2004, frozen bodies of three Austro-Hungarian soldiers killed during the Battle of San Matteo (1918) were found. One body was sent to a museum in the hope that research on how the environment affected its preservation will help to find out about Otzi's past and future evolution.
An ancient crime?
Analysis of Ötzi's gut contents showed two meals, one of ibex meat, the second of red deer meat, both consumed with some grain. Pollen in the first meal showed that it had been consumed in a mid-altitude conifer forest.
DNA analysis revealed traces of blood from four other people on his gear: one from his knife, two from the same arrowhead, and a fourth from his coat. A CAT scan revealed that Otzi had what appeared to be an arrowhead lodged in one shoulder when he died, matching a small tear on his coat.
The arrow shaft had been removed, apparently by a companion. He also had bruises and cuts on his hands, wrists, and chest.
From such evidence, and an examination of his weapons, molecular biologist Thomas Loy from the University of Queensland believes that Otzi and one or two companions were hunters who engaged in a skirmish with a rival group. At some point, he may have carried (or been carried by) a companion. Weakened by blood loss, Otzi apparently put down his equipment neatly against a rock, lay down and expired.
Before the latest evidence, it was speculated that, rather than fleeing attackers, he was ritually killed to propitiate a god or gods, or that he was a chieftain and therefore ritually killed to ensure fertility. One of the most fanciful theories was that he was in fact an Egyptian who had been ritually castrated. Later examination, however, revealed that, though shrunken by the mummification, Otzi did in fact possess a penis.
Seven people loosely related to Ötzi's discovery or research have subsequently died, leading some to believe in a curse while others believe that mountain climbers are risk takers and often die early of accidental causes. It should be noted that there are other numerous researchers and scientists working closely with Ötzi's body who have not died in the 14 years since his discovery.
1. The "curse" began in 1992 with the death of Dr. Rainer Henn, 64, who was the head of the forensic team who examined the body. He died when his car was in a head-on collision with another vehicle while on his way to give a talk about Otzi.
2. The second "victim" is mountaineer Kurt Fritz, who led Dr. Henn and the others to the iceman's body and later gave tours to the site. Like other experienced climbers, he died in an avalanche at a mountain region he was familiar with.
3. Austrian journalist Rainer Hoelzl was the third "victim". He exclusively covered the removal of the body as part of a one-hour documentary that was shown around the world. But he developed a mystery illness - thought to be a brain tumor - that claimed his life in extreme pain a few months after the programme was shown.
4. The fourth "victim" is the German tourist Helmut Simon, who found the body. The hiker returned to the region to celebrate winning a £50,000 court battle over rights to the mummy. He set out in fine weather but a blizzard set in and he fell approximately 100 meters into a deep ravine, some 200 kilometers from the place where Otzi perished. He had not signed the court papers so his widow did not get the £50,000.
5. Dieter Warnecke was the head of the mountain rescue team that searched for Helmut Simon. He died at age 45 of a heart attack less than an hour after Helmut Simon was buried.
6. The 6th victim was archaeologist Konrad Spindler - the leading expert on the 5,300-year-old corpse. The Austrian expert had dismissed the link between the five previous deaths. He declared: "I think it's a load of rubbish. It is all a media hype. The next thing you will be saying I will be next." He died in April 2005 at age 66 of ALS, a pre-existing chronic condition.
7. In October 2005 the "curse" claimed its seventh "victim" - the 63-year old Dr Tom Loy died prior to finishing a book on Otzi. He was the seventh person to die who had been in close contact with the mummy.
The Innsbruck professor Friedrich Tiefenbrunner died during open-heart surgery in January 2005. Tiefenbrunner belonged to Spindler's team and had found a method to protect Otzi's mummy against bacterial and fungal attack.
Otzi Wikipedia and Related Websites