The mummified body of Ötzi the Iceman, accidentally found three decades ago, reveals much about the way people lived in the Alpine region at that specific time in history.
Chance plays an important role in bringing many innovations to fruition, and throughout history, there have been numerous accidental discoveries that have changed the world for good.
However, the surprise that awaited two hikers in the Austro-Italian Alps was surely not a pleasant one at the very moment. Namely, while enjoying the fascinating scenery during their hike, back in 1991, Helmut and Erika Simon were shocked to see a body!
They initially got the impression that the man had been a mountaineer who had suffered a tragic incident. However, after informing the authorities, they have found out that they had made a historic discovery!
The remains they stumbled across belonged to a man from the Copper Age, who was hiking through an Alpine glacier! The man, later named “Ötzi the Iceman”, was extracted with a small jackhammer and ice axes.
The Iceman got the nickname because he was found in the Otztal Alps of South Tyrol. The body was transported to a morgue in Innsbruck.
“Ötzi the Iceman” is the oldest naturally preserved ice mummy, and according to experts, he died between 3350 and 3100 B.C.
Investigation showed that he died in summer or spring. The body was shipped off to Zurich, so Swiss researchers could do an extensive examination and use x-ray technology to discover more about it.
Fortunately, the mummy was so well preserved that, over the years, researchers were able to conduct a modern autopsy on him and find out much about this specific period in ancient human history.
Investigation showed that Ötzi was naturally mummified about 5,300 years ago. At the time, he was about 46, weighed about 84 pounds, and was 165 centimeters tall.
His tanned body was covered in over 50 tattoos, he had a narrow and pointed face, brown eyes, long dark hair, and a shaggy beard. His blood type was O-positive, and he was lactose-intolerant.
Experts concluded that he was a copper smelter by trade, due to the levels of copper particles and arsenic found in his hair. Moreover, the robust bone structure of the body suggested that he was a shepherd.
The copper ax found with his was found to be valuable, and it either served as a tool or as a weapon, or it might have also been a status symbol.
He wore clothes made from leather, hide, braided grass, and animal sinews.
- The body of Ötzi the Iceman is displayed in the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology in Bolzano
When it comes to the way he died, CT scans showed there was an arrowhead lodged in his left shoulder, which had damaged a large artery on the way.
Experts believe that the man had joined a raiding party against another tribe as he wasn’t on home turf.
For the past three decades, the body is on full display in the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology in Bolzano, in a hi-tech refrigerated casket chilled to a glacial -6C, providing a peek into human life in the Alpine region during the Copper Age.