|Born||c. 3300 BC
near the present village of Feldthurns (Velturno), north of Bolzano, Italy
|Died||c. 3255 BC (aged about 45)
Ötztal Alps, near Hauslabjoch on the border between Austria and Italy
|Cause of death||Exsanguination due to arrow wound on his shoulder|
|Other names||Similaun Man; "Frozen Fritz" (by British tabloids)/Otzi|
|Known for||Oldest natural mummy of a Chalcolithic (Copper Age) European man|
|Height||1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)|
|Weight||50 kg (110 lb; 7.9 st)|
|South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology|
Ötzi (pronounced [ˈœtsi] ( listen), also called Ötzi the Iceman, the Similaun Man, the Man from Hauslabjoch, Homo tyrolensis, and the Hauslabjoch mummy) is a well-preserved natural mummy of a man who lived about 3,300 BC. The mummy was found in September 1991 in the Ötztal Alps, hence Ötzi, near the Similaun mountain and Hauslabjoch on the border between Austria and Italy. He is Europe's oldest natural human mummy, and has offered an unprecedented view of Chalcolithic Europeans. His body and belongings are displayed in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy.
On 19 September 1991, Ötzi was found by two German tourists from Nuremberg, Helmut and Erika Simon, at 3,210 metres (10,530 ft) on the east ridge of the Fineilspitze in the Ötztal Alps on the Austrian–Italian border, while walking off the path between the mountain passes Hauslabjoch and Tisenjoch. They believed that the body was of a recently deceased mountaineer. The next day, a mountain gendarme and the keeper of the nearby Similaunhütte first attempted to remove the body, which was frozen in ice below the torso, using a pneumatic drill and ice-axes, but had to give up due to bad weather. The next day, eight groups visited the site, amongst whom happened to be the famous mountaineers Hans Kammerlander and Reinhold Messner. The body was semi-officially extracted on 22 September and officially salvaged the following day. It was transported to the University of Innsbruck, where it was recognized to be primeval the same day.
At the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1919), the border of Austria and Italy was defined as the watershed of the rivers Inn and Etsch, and Ötzi's find site drains to the Austrian side. However, the border veers slightly away from the watershed, and surveys in October 1991 showed that the body had been located 92.56 metres (101 yd) inside Italian territoryCoordinates: . The province of South Tyrol therefore claimed property rights, but agreed to let Innsbruck University finish their scientific examinations. Since 1998 it has been on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, the capital of South Tyrol.
The corpse has been extensively examined, measured, X-rayed, and dated. Tissues and intestinal contents have been examined microscopically, as have the items found with the body. In August 2004, frozen bodies of three Austro-Hungarian soldiers killed during the Battle of San Matteo (1918) were found on the mountain Punta San Matteo in Trentino. One body was sent to a museum in the hope that research on how the environment affected its preservation would help unravel both Ötzi's past, and future evolution of humans.
By current estimates, at the time of his death Ötzi was approximately 1.65 metres (5 ft 5 in) tall, weighed about 50 kilograms (110 lb; 7.9 st) and was about 45 years of age. When his body was found, it weighed 13.750 kg. Because the body was covered in ice shortly after his death, it had only partially deteriorated. Analysis of pollen, dust grains and the isotopic composition of his tooth enamel indicates that he spent his childhood near the present village of Feldthurns, north of Bolzano, but later went to live in valleys about 50 kilometres further north. His lungs were blackened, probably from breathing the smoke of campfires. Analysis by Franco Rollo's group at the University of Camerino has shown that Ötzi's mitochondrial DNA belongs to the K1 subcluster of the mitochondrial haplogroup K, but that it cannot be categorized into any of the three modern branches of that subcluster. Rollo's group published Ötzi's complete mtDNA sequence in 2008.
Analysis of Ötzi's intestinal contents showed two meals (the last one consumed about eight hours before his death), one of chamois meat, the other of red deer and herb bread. Both were eaten with grain as well as roots and fruits. The grain from both meals was a highly processed einkorn wheat bran, quite possibly eaten in the form of bread. In the proximity of the body, and thus possibly originating from the Iceman's provisions, chaff and grains of einkorn and barley, and seeds of flax and poppy were discovered, as well as kernels of sloes (small plumlike fruits of the blackthorn tree) and various seeds of berries growing in the wild. Hair analysis was used to examine his diet from several months before.
Pollen in the first meal showed that it had been consumed in a mid-altitude conifer forest, and other pollens indicated the presence of wheat and legumes, which may have been domesticated crops. Pollen grains of hop-hornbeam were also discovered. The pollen was very well preserved, with the cells inside remaining intact, indicating that it had been fresh (a few hours old) at the time of Ötzi's death, which places the event in the spring. Einkorn wheat is harvested in the late summer, and sloes in the autumn; these must have been stored from the previous year.
In 2009, a CAT scan revealed that the stomach had shifted upward to where his lower lung area would normally be. Analysis of the contents revealed the partly digested remains of ibex meat, confirmed by DNA analysis, suggesting he had a meal less than two hours before his death. Wheat grains were also found.
High levels of both copper particles and arsenic were found in Ötzi's hair. This, along with Ötzi's copper axe which is 99.7% pure copper, has led scientists to speculate that Ötzi was involved in copper smelting.
By examining the proportions of Ötzi's tibia, femur and pelvis, Christopher Ruff has determined that Ötzi's lifestyle included long walks over hilly terrain. This degree of mobility is not characteristic of other Copper Age Europeans. Ruff proposes that this may indicate that Ötzi was a high-altitude shepherd.
Using modern 3-D technology, a facial reconstruction has been created for the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy. It shows Ötzi looking old for his 45 years, with deep-set brown eyes, a beard, a furrowed face, and sunken cheeks. He is depicted looking tired and ungroomed.
Ötzi apparently had whipworm (Trichuris trichiura), an intestinal parasite. During CT scans, it was observed that three or four of his right ribs had been cracked when he had been lying face down after death, or where the ice had crushed his body. One of his fingernails (of the two found) shows three Beau's lines indicating he was sick three times in the six months before he died. The last incident, two months before he died, lasted about two weeks. Also, it was found that his epidermis, the outer skin layer, was missing, a natural process from his mummification in ice. Ötzi's teeth showed considerable internal deterioration from cavities. These oral pathologies may have been brought about by his grain-heavy, high carbohydrate diet. DNA analysis in February 2012 revealed that Ötzi was lactose intolerant, supporting the theory that lactose intolerance was still common at that time, despite the increasing spread of agriculture and dairying.
Ötzi had several carbon tattoos including groups of short, parallel, vertical lines to both sides of the lumbar spine, a cruciform mark behind the right knee, and various marks around both ankles. Radiological examination of his bones showed "age-conditioned or strain-induced degeneration" in these areas, including osteochondrosis and slight spondylosis in the lumbar spine and wear-and-tear degeneration in the knee and especially the ankle joints. It has been speculated that these tattoos may have been related to pain relief treatments similar to acupressure or acupuncture. If so, this is at least 2000 years before their previously known earliest use in China (c. 1000 BC).
Clothes and shoes
Ötzi's clothes were sophisticated. He wore a cloak made of woven grass and a coat, a belt, a pair of leggings, a loincloth and shoes, all made of leather of different skins. He also wore a bearskin cap with a leather chin strap. The shoes were waterproof and wide, seemingly designed for walking across the snow; they were constructed using bearskin for the soles, deer hide for the top panels, and a netting made of tree bark. Soft grass went around the foot and in the shoe and functioned like modern socks. The coat, belt, leggings and loincloth were constructed of vertical strips of leather sewn together with sinew. His belt had a pouch sewn to it that contained a cache of useful items: a scraper, drill, flint flake, bone awl and a dried fungus.
The shoes have since been reproduced by a Czech academic, who said that "because the shoes are actually quite complex, I'm convinced that even 5,300 years ago, people had the equivalent of a cobbler who made shoes for other people". The reproductions were found to constitute such excellent footwear that it was reported that a Czech company offered to purchase the rights to sell them. However, a more recent hypothesis by British archaeologist Jacqui Wood says that Ötzi's "shoes" were actually the upper part of snowshoes. According to this theory, the item currently interpreted as part of a "backpack" is actually the wood frame and netting of one snowshoe and animal hide to cover the face.
Tools and equipment
Other items found with the Iceman were a copper axe with a yew handle, a flint-bladed knife with an ash handle and a quiver of 14 arrows with viburnum and dogwood shafts. Two of the arrows, which were broken, were tipped with flint and had fletching (stabilizing fins), while the other 12 were unfinished and untipped. The arrows were found in a quiver with what is presumed to be a bow string, an unidentified tool, and an antler tool which might have been used for sharpening arrow points. There was also an unfinished yew longbow that was 1.82 metres (72 in) long.
In addition, among Ötzi's possessions were berries, two birch bark baskets, and two species of polypore mushrooms with leather strings through them. One of these, the birch fungus, is known to have antibacterial properties, and was probably used for medicinal 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.
Ötzi's copper axe was of particular interest. The axe's haft is 60 centimetres (24 in) long and made from carefully worked yew with a right-angled crook at the shoulder, leading to the blade. The 9.5 centimetres (3.7 in) long axe head is made of almost pure copper, produced by a combination of casting, cold forging, polishing, and sharpening. It was let into the forked end of the crook and fixed there using birch-tar and tight leather lashing. The blade part of the head extends out of the lashing and shows clear signs of having been used to chop and cut. At the time, such an axe would have been a valuable possession, important both as a tool and as a status symbol for the bearer.
A group of scientists have sequenced Ötzi's full genome and the report was published on 28 February 2012. The Y-DNA of Ötzi belongs to a subclade of G defined by the SNPs M201, P287, P15, L223 and L91 (G-L91, ISOGG G2a2b, former "G2a4"). He was not typed for any of the subclades downstreaming from G-L91. G-L91 is now mostly found in South Corsica.
Analysis of his mitochondrial DNA has shown that Ötzi belongs to the K1 subclade, but cannot be categorized into any of the three modern branches of that subclade (K1a, K1b or K1c). The new subclade has provisionally been named K1ö for Ötzi. Multiplex assay study was able to confirm that the Iceman's mtDNA belongs to a new European mtDNA clade with a very limited distribution amongst modern data sets.
DNA analysis also showed him at high risk of atherosclerosis, lactose intolerance, and the presence of the DNA sequence of Borrelia burgdorferi, making him the earliest known human with Lyme disease.
In May 2012, scientists announced the discovery that Ötzi still had intact blood cells. These are the oldest blood cells ever identified. For most bodies this old, the blood cells are usually either shrunken or mere remnants, but Ötzi's has the same dimensions as living red blood cells and his cells resembled a modern-day sample.
Cause of death
It was initially believed that Ötzi died from exposure during a winter storm. Later it was speculated that Ötzi may have been a victim of a ritual sacrifice, perhaps for being a chieftain. This explanation was inspired by theories previously advanced for the first millennium BC bodies recovered from peat bogs such as the Tollund Man and the Lindow Man.
Theories involving struggle followed by cold death
In 2001 X-rays and a CT scan revealed that Ötzi had an arrowhead lodged in his left shoulder when he died, and a matching small tear on his coat. The discovery of the arrowhead prompted researchers to theorize Ötzi died of blood loss from the wound, which would probably have been fatal even if modern medical techniques had been available. Further research found that the arrow's shaft had been removed before death, and close examination of the body found bruises and cuts to the hands, wrists and chest and cerebral trauma indicative of a blow to the head. One of the cuts was to the base of his thumb that reached down to the bone but had no time to heal before his death. Currently it is believed that death was caused by a blow to the head, though researchers are unsure if this was due to a fall, or from being struck with a rock by another person. Unpublished and thus unconfirmed DNA analyses claim they 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. Interpretations of these findings were that Ötzi killed two people with the same arrow, and was able to retrieve it on both occasions, and the blood on his coat was from a wounded comrade he may have carried over his back. Ötzi's unnatural posture in death (frozen body, face down, left arm bent across the chest) suggests that the theory of a solitary death from blood loss, hunger, cold and weakness is untenable. Rather, before death occurred and rigor mortis set in, the Iceman was turned on to his stomach in the effort to remove the arrow shaft.
In May 2012, researchers using Raman spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy concluded that Ötzi did not die immediately from his shoulder wound. They detected dried blood cells and possibly fibrin in a state of degradation from maturity, suggesting an established blood clot of more than a few days’ age.
The DNA evidence suggests that he was assisted by companions who were also wounded; pollen and food analysis suggests that he was out of his home territory. The copper axe could not have been made by him alone. It would have required a group tribal effort to mine, smelt and cast the copper axe head. This may indicate that Ötzi was part of an armed raiding party involved in a skirmish, perhaps with a neighboring tribe, and this skirmish had gone badly. When the Iceman's mitochondrial DNA was analyzed by Franco Rollo and his colleagues, it was discovered that he had genetic markers associated with reduced fertility. It has been speculated that this may have affected his social acceptance, or at least that his infertility could have had social implications within his tribal group, which could have played a role in the chain of events that led to the confrontation.
In 2010, it was proposed that Ötzi died at a much lower altitude and was buried higher in the mountains, as posited by archaeologist Alessandro Vanzetti of the Sapienza University of Rome and his colleagues. According to their study of the items found near Ötzi and their locations, it is possible that the iceman may have been placed above what has been interpreted as a stone burial mound but was subsequently moved with each thaw cycle that created a flowing watery mix driven by gravity before being re-frozen.
While archaeobotanist Klaus Oeggl of the University of Innsbruck agrees that the natural process described probably caused the body to move from the ridge that includes the stone formation, he pointed out that the paper provided no compelling evidence to demonstrate that the scattered stones constituted a burial platform. Moreover, biological anthropologist Albert Zink argues that the iceman’s bones display no dislocations that would have resulted from a downhill slide and that the intact blood clots in his arrow wound would show damage were the body carted up the mountain.
In either case, the burial theory does not contradict the possibility of a violent cause of death as stated in the preceding theories.
Italian law entitled the Simons to a finders' fee from the South Tyrolean provincial government of 25% of the value of Ötzi. In 1994 the authorities offered a "symbolic" reward of 10 million lire (€5,200), which the Simons turned down. In 2003, the Simons filed a lawsuit which asked a court in Bolzano to recognize their role in Ötzi's discovery and declare them his "official discoverers". The court decided in the Simons' favor in November 2003, and at the end of December that year the Simons announced that they were seeking US$300,000 as their fee. The provincial government decided to appeal.
In addition, two people came forward to claim that they were part of the same mountaineering party that came across Ötzi and discovered the body first:
- Magdalena Mohar Jarc, a Slovenian actress, who alleged that she discovered the corpse first, and shortly after returning to an alpine house, asked Helmut Simon to take photographs of Ötzi.
- Sandra Nemeth, from Switzerland, who contended that she found the corpse before Helmut and Erika Simon, and that she spat on Ötzi to make sure that her DNA would be found on the body later. She asked for a DNA test on the remains, but experts believed that there was little chance of finding any trace.
The rival claims were heard by a Bolzano court. The legal case angered Mrs. Simon, who alleged that neither woman was present on the mountain that day. This position is supported by a detailed description of the Iceman's discovery by Austrian researcher Elisabeth Rastbichler-Zissernig. In 2005, Mrs. Simon's lawyer said: "Mrs. Simon is very upset by all this and by the fact that these two new claimants have decided to appear 14 years after Ötzi was found."
In 2004, Helmut Simon died. Two years later, in June 2006, an appeals court affirmed that the Simons had indeed discovered the Iceman and were therefore entitled to a finder's fee. It also ruled that the provincial government had to pay the Simons' legal costs. After this ruling, Mrs. Erika Simon reduced her claim to €150,000. The provincial government's response was that the expenses it had incurred to establish a museum and the costs of preserving the Iceman should be considered in determining the finder's fee. It insisted it would pay no more than €50,000. In September 2006, the authorities appealed the case to Italy's highest court, the Court of Cassation.
On 29 September 2008 it was announced that the provincial government and Mrs. Simon had reached a settlement of the dispute, under which she would receive €150,000 in recognition of Ötzi's discovery by her and her late husband and the tourist income that it attracts.
Influenced by the "Curse of the pharaohs" and the media theme of cursed mummies, claims have been made that Ötzi is cursed. The allegation revolves around the deaths of several people connected to the discovery, recovery and subsequent examination of Ötzi. It is alleged that they have died under mysterious circumstances. These persons include co-discoverer Helmut Simon, and Konrad Spindler, the first examiner of the mummy in Austria at a local morgue in 1991. To date, the deaths of seven people, of which four were the result of some violence in the form of accidents, have been attributed to the alleged curse. In reality hundreds of people were involved in the recovery of Ötzi and are still involved in studying the body and the artifacts found with it. The fact that a small percentage of them have died over the years has not been shown to be statistically significant.
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- Spindler, Konrad; translated from the German by Ewald Osers (2001), The Man in the Ice: The Preserved Body of a Neolithic Man Reveals the Secrets of the Stone Age, London: Phoenix, ISBN 0-7538-1260-6.
- De Marinis, Raffaele C.; Brillante, Giuseppe (1998), La Mummia del Similaun: Ötzi, l'Uomo Venuto dal Ghiaccio [The Mummy of the Similaun: Ötzi, the Man who Came from the Ice], Venice, Italy: Marsilio, ISBN 88-317-7073-X (Italian)
- Fleckinger, Angelika; Steiner, Hubert (1998 (2000 printing)), L'Uomo Venuto dal Ghiaccio [The Man who Came from the Ice], Bolzano, Italy: Folio, ISBN 88-86857-03-9 (pbk.) (Italian)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Ötzi|
- Official website about Ötzi
- [isogg.org/tree/Keller 2012 Oetzi Iceman.pdf New insights into the Tyrolean Iceman's origin and phenotype as inferred by whole-genome sequencing]
- Iceman Photoscan, published by EURAC Research, Institute for Mummies and the Iceman
- "Death of the Iceman" – a synopsis of a BBC Horizon TV documentary first broadcast on 7 February 2002
- Ötzi Links... Der Mann aus dem Eis vom Hauslabjoch – a list of links to websites about Ötzi in English, German and Italian (last updated 28 January 2006)
- Otzi, the 5,300 Year Old Iceman from the Alps: Pictures & Information (last updated 27 October 2004)
- "Five millennia on, Iceman of Bolzano gives up DNA secrets" Michael Day, The Independent, 2 August 2010
- "The Iceman Mummy: Finally Face to Face High definition image of a reconstruction of Ötzi's face.