Monday, March 16, 2009

Iceman


The Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, Italy, has released a detailed photoscan of the iceman. "Ötzi," as he is known, was found frozen in the Alps by two German tourists in 1991. A dispute over the discovery of the body was not settled until 2008, but the still-frozen mummy has been on display to the public since 1998 at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology. The iceman has been subject to detailed study that has revealed the following about his life in the Copper Age (c. 3300 B.C.):
  • At the time of his death, Ötzi was about 45 years old, stood 5' 5" tall, and weighed about 110 lbs.
  • He ate the meat of the chamois (a goat-like animal) and the red deer, wheat bran (possibly in the form of bread), sloes (plum-like fruits), and legumes (which may have been domesticated crops).
  • He may have been a high-altitude shepherd and was possibly involved in copper smelting.
  • He suffered from arthritis in his joints and had 57 tattoos that may have been related to acupuncture to relieve the pain.
  • He had an intestinal parasite and had been sick 3 times in the 6 months before he died.
  • He wore a cloak of woven grass; a coat, belt, leggings, loincloth, and shoes, all made of various leathers; and a bearskin hat.
  • He carried with him a pouch containing a scraper, drill, flint flake, and bone awl; a copper axe, flint knife, quiver of arrows, bowstring, and longbow; berries, birch bark, and several kinds of dried mushrooms that may have been used for medicinal purposes; and a fire-starting kit consisting of fungus for tinder and pyrite for creating sparks.
  • He had an arrowhead lodged in his shoulder (the shaft had been removed), cuts and bruises on his body, and head trauma that indicated death either from a fall or being hit by a rock.
  • He had traces of blood from four people on his gear, including an arrowhead that had been retrieved after shooting two human victims.
  • His positioning indicated that he did not die alone and may have been part of an armed raiding party.
The studies that have suggested his biography include analysis of his hair, fingernails, bones, intestinal contents, and tooth enamel; sequencing of his DNA; and x-rays and CT-scans. A memorial was put in place where the body of the iceman - which has revealed so much - was found. The discovery was aided by a below-average snowfall in 1991, and a Saharan dust fall that also accelerated melting.

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