Kwäday Dän Ts'ìnchi

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Kwäday Dän Ts'ìnchi
Born c. 1450–1700 AD
British Columbia, Canada
Died Summertime, c. 1450–1700 AD (about 20 years of age at time of death)
Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park, near the Yukon border
Cause of death
Unknown, possibly accident followed by hypothermia
Other names Canadian Ice Man
Known for Oldest natural mummy found in the Americas
Website
Kwaday Dän Ts'inchi Project Introduction

Kwäday Dän Ts'ìnchi[pronunciation?] (meaning Long Ago Person Found in Southern Tutchone), or Canadian Ice Man, is a naturally mummified body found in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park in British Columbia, Canada, by a group of hunters in 1999. Radiocarbon dating of artifacts found with the body placed the age of the body at between 300 and 550 years old. The find, while not as old, was comparable in condition and value to Ötzi the Iceman, remains dating to 3300 BC that were found in the Ötztal Alps in 1991.[1][2]

DNA testing of more than 200 volunteers from the local Champagne and Aishihik First Nations revealed 17 individuals who are related to the ice man through their direct maternal line. They were excited to have their deep connections to the area affirmed.

The discovery[edit]

Three sheep hunters, Bill Hanlon, Warren Ward and Mike Roche, discovered a number of artifacts and a human body in a melting glacier while hunting near the Yukon border on August 14, 1999 (60°N 138°W / 60°N 138°W / 60; -138). The hunters were walking along a glacier, above the tree line, and noticed some bits of wood, which they thought unusual given their location. They examined the wood, and noticed carvings and notches, possibly indicating the wood formed the frame of a backpack. Searching with binoculars, Ward discovered the body in the ice. On August 16, the party reported their find to Beringia Centre staff, and turned in a number of artifacts they collected from the site.

Before making a public announcement, the Centre notified representatives of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, whose historic territory is here.[3] They visited the site and decided to name the person Kwäday Dän Ts'ìnchi, which means Long Ago Person Found. A team of archeologists was assembled to assess the find, and the First Nations were further consulted about the project.[4][5] They supported having scientific studies done.[3]

Description[edit]

The remains had been dismembered after death, probably by shifting ice due to thermal cracking and slumping along the edge of the glacier. The first part found was the torso, with left arm and mummified hand still attached. The lower body was found a few meters away, with the thighs and muscle still attached. The head was missing, as were the right arm and lower right leg, though his hair, attached to some remnants of the scalp, and some small bones from the right hand and foot were recovered. Soft tissue was present primarily in the torso and thighs. The torso was of particular interest, as gastric contents could be analyzed to yield clues to the days leading up to the man's death.[5][6]

Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi represents the oldest well-preserved human remains in North America. The young man was estimated to be approximately 18–19 years old at his time of death.[7] The cause of death is unknown, but there appears to be no sign of serious injury, and hypothermia is a possibility. He died near the onset of the Little Ice Age. An examination of the food in Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi's digestive tract reveals that he had traveled a distance of around 100 km (62 mi) in the three days prior to his death, from the coastal region up into higher elevations where he was found. Based on pollen found in the contents of his colon, he was traveling in the summer.[8]

Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi was found with a number of artifacts, including a robe made from about 95 gopher or squirrel skins sewn together with sinew, a woven hat, a walking stick, a knife, a hand tool of unknown purpose, and an atlatl and dart. The tribes allowed samples to be taken for study (among them, a DNA study). They decided to have his remains cremated and scattered over the area where he was discovered. Local clans are considering a memorial potlatch to honor the ancient man.[1][2][6][9]

DNA testing[edit]

In 2000, mitochondrial DNA testing of 241 area volunteers of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations revealed 17 living people who are related to Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi through their direct maternal line.[10] A partial mitochondrial DNA sequence of Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi, containing information on the hypervariable region HVR2, bases 1 to 360, is available in the National Center for Biotechnology Information's genome sequencing database, GenBank, as accession number AF502945.[2][11]

Conference[edit]

The find and studies generated great interest in Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi. In June 2005 the findings were discussed at a science conference on Rapid Landscape Change at Yukon College.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Kwaday Dän Ts'inchi Project Introduction". 
  2. ^ a b c "Scientists find 17 living relatives of 'iceman' discovered in B.C. glacier". CBC News. April 25, 2008. 
  3. ^ a b JAMES BROOKE (August 25, 1999). "Body of Ancient Man Found in West Canada Glacier". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ "Kwaday Dän Ts'inchi Project Chronology". 
  5. ^ a b "Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi - "Long-Ago Person Found"". 
  6. ^ a b Owen Beattie, Brian Apland, Erik W. Blake, James A. Cosgrove, Sarah Gaunt, Sheila Greer, Alexander P. Mackie, Kjerstin E. Mackie, Dan Straathof, Valerie Thorp and Peter M. Troffe (2000). "The Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi Discovery from a Glacier in British Columbia". Canadian Journal of Archaeology (24): 129–147. 
  7. ^ Pringle, Heather. "The Messenger", Canadian Geographic Magazine, Dec 2008, p. 74
  8. ^ a b Julia Skikavich (June 17, 2005). "Delegates hear of ice man's final journey". Whitehorse Star. 
  9. ^ "Kwaday Dän Ts'inchi Project Photos". 
  10. ^ Pringle, Heather. "The Messenger", Canadian Geographic Magazine, Dec 2008, p. 73
  11. ^ "Homo sapiens isolate Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi mitochondrial control region, partial sequence.".