Ötzi the Iceman
Ötzi the Iceman (ˈœtsi), Similaun
Similaun is a mountain in the Schnalskamm group of the Ötztal Alps/Venoste Alps. It is on the Austrian-Italian border. At 3,606 m high, it is Austria's sixth highest summit. It was first ascended in 1834 by Josef Raffeiner and Theodor Kaserer. It is most famous for being the mountain on whose...

, and Man from Hauslabjoch are modern names for a well-preserved natural mummy of a man who lived about 5,300 years ago. The mummy was found in September 1991 in the Ötztal Alps
Ötztal Alps
The Ötztal Alps are a mountain range in the central Alps of Europe, part of the Central Eastern Alps. They are arrayed at the head of the Ötztal, a side valley of the Inn River southwest of Innsbruck, Austria; the line of summits forms part of Austria's border with Italy.The western border is the...

, near Hauslabjoch on the border between Austria and Italy. The nickname comes from the Ötztal (Ötz valley), the Italian Alps in which he was discovered. He is Europe's oldest natural human mummy, and has offered an unprecedented view of Chalcolithic (Copper Age
Copper Age
The Chalcolithic |stone]]") period or Copper Age, also known as the Eneolithic/Æneolithic , is a phase of the Bronze Age in which the addition of tin to copper to form bronze during smelting remained yet unknown by the metallurgists of the times...

) Europeans. His body and belongings are displayed in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology
South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology
South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology is a specialist archaeological museum in the city of Bolzano, the capital of South Tyrol, northern Italy. It is the home of the preserved body of Ötzi the Iceman.- History :...

 in Bolzano, South Tyrol
South Tyrol
South Tyrol , also known by its Italian name Alto Adige, is an autonomous province in northern Italy. It is one of the two autonomous provinces that make up the autonomous region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. The province has an area of and a total population of more than 500,000 inhabitants...

, Italy.


Ötzi was found by two German tourists from Nuremberg
Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

, Helmut and Erika Simon at the Hauslabjoch, (a mountain pass at 3210 m height in the Ötztal Alps
Ötztal Alps
The Ötztal Alps are a mountain range in the central Alps of Europe, part of the Central Eastern Alps. They are arrayed at the head of the Ötztal, a side valley of the Inn River southwest of Innsbruck, Austria; the line of summits forms part of Austria's border with Italy.The western border is the...

 on the Austrian-Italian border), and excavated by German archaeologist Herbert Hetzel on 19 September 1991; the body was at first thought to be a modern corpse. Lying on its front and frozen in ice below the torso, it was crudely removed from the glacier by the Austrian authorities using a small jackhammer
A jackhammer is a pneumatic tool that combines a hammer directly with a chisel that was invented by Charles Brady King. Hand-held jackhammers are typically powered by compressed air, but some use electric motors. Larger jackhammers, such as rig mounted hammers used on construction machinery, are...

 (which punctured the hip of the body) and ice-axes using non-archaeological methods. In addition, before the body was removed from the ice, people were allowed to see it, and some took portions of the clothing and tools as souvenirs. The body was then taken to a morgue in Innsbruck
- Main sights :- Buildings :*Golden Roof*Kaiserliche Hofburg *Hofkirche with the cenotaph of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor*Altes Landhaus...

 where its true age was ascertained.

Surveys in October 1991 showed that the body had been located 92.56 metres (101 yd) inside Italian territory.
Since 1998 it has been on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, the capital of South Tyrol.

Scientific analyses

The corpse has been extensively examined, measured, X-ray
X-radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. X-rays have a wavelength in the range of 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz and energies in the range 120 eV to 120 keV. They are shorter in wavelength than UV rays and longer than gamma...

ed, 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
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 soldiers killed during the Battle of San Matteo
Battle of San Matteo
The Battle of San Matteo took place in the late summer of 1918 on the Punta San Matteo during World War I. It was regarded as the highest battle in history until it was surpassed in 1999 by the Kargil Conflict at 5600m....

 (1918) were found on the mountain of 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 Ötzi's past and future evolution.


By current estimates, at the time of his death Ötzi was approximately 1.65 metre tall, weighed about 50 kg (110.2 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
Isotopes are variants of atoms of a particular chemical element, which have differing numbers of neutrons. Atoms of a particular element by definition must contain the same number of protons but may have a distinct number of neutrons which differs from atom to atom, without changing the designation...

 composition of his tooth enamel
Tooth enamel
Tooth enamel, along with dentin, cementum, and dental pulp is one of the four major tissues that make up the tooth in vertebrates. It is the hardest and most highly mineralized substance in the human body. Tooth enamel is also found in the dermal denticles of sharks...

 indicates that he spent his childhood near the present village of Feldthurns
Feldthurns is a comune in South Tyrol in the Italian region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, located about 80 km northeast of the city of Trento and about 25 km northeast of the city of Bolzano.-Geography:...

, 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
University of Camerino
The University of Camerino is a university located in Camerino, Italy. It claims to have been founded in 1336, was officially recognized by the Pope in 1727, and is organized into five faculties.-History:...

 has shown that Ötzi's mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA is the DNA located in organelles called mitochondria, structures within eukaryotic cells that convert the chemical energy from food into a form that cells can use, adenosine triphosphate...

 belongs to the K1 subcluster of the mitochondrial haplogroup K
Haplogroup K (mtDNA)
In human mitochondrial genetics, Haplogroup K is a human mitochondrial DNA haplogroup, defined by HVR1 mutations 16224C and 16311C.-Origin:It is the most common subclade of haplogroup U8, and it has an estimated age of c. 12,000 years BP....

, 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
The chamois, Rupicapra rupicapra, is a goat-antelope species native to mountains in Europe, including the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, the European Alps, the Tatra Mountains, the Balkans, parts of Turkey, and the Caucasus. The chamois has also been introduced to the South Island of New Zealand...

 meat, the other of red deer
Red Deer
The red deer is one of the largest deer species. Depending on taxonomy, the red deer inhabits most of Europe, the Caucasus Mountains region, Asia Minor, parts of western Asia, and central Asia. It also inhabits the Atlas Mountains region between Morocco and Tunisia in northwestern Africa, being...

 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
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

, and seeds of flax
Flax is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. It is native to the region extending from the eastern Mediterranean to India and was probably first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent...

 and poppy
A poppy is one of a group of a flowering plants in the poppy family, many of which are grown in gardens for their colorful flowers. Poppies are sometimes used for symbolic reasons, such as in remembrance of soldiers who have died during wartime....

 were discovered, as well as kernels of sloes
Prunus spinosa
Prunus spinosa is a species of Prunus native to Europe, western Asia, and locally in northwest Africa. It is also locally naturalised in New Zealand and eastern North America....

 (small plumlike fruits of the blackthorn tree) and various seeds of berries growing in the wild. Hair analysis
Hair analysis
Hair analysis may refer to the chemical analysis of a hair sample, but can also refer to microscopic analysis or comparison. Chemical hair analysis may be considered for retrospective purposes when blood and urine are no longer expected to contain a particular contaminant, typically a year or less...

 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
Ostrya is a genus of eight to ten small deciduous trees belonging to the birch family Betulaceae. Its common name is Hophornbeam in American English and Hop-hornbeam in British English. It may also be called ironwood, a name shared with a number of other plants.The genus is native in southern...

 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
Arsenic is a chemical element with the symbol As, atomic number 33 and relative atomic mass 74.92. Arsenic occurs in many minerals, usually in conjunction with sulfur and metals, and also as a pure elemental crystal. It was first documented by Albertus Magnus in 1250.Arsenic is a metalloid...

 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
Smelting is a form of extractive metallurgy; its main use is to produce a metal from its ore. This includes iron extraction from iron ore, and copper extraction and other base metals from their ores...


By examining the proportions of Ötzi's tibia
The tibia , shinbone, or shankbone is the larger and stronger of the two bones in the leg below the knee in vertebrates , and connects the knee with the ankle bones....

, femur
The femur , or thigh bone, is the most proximal bone of the leg in tetrapod vertebrates capable of walking or jumping, such as most land mammals, birds, many reptiles such as lizards, and amphibians such as frogs. In vertebrates with four legs such as dogs and horses, the femur is found only in...

 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
Copper Age
The Chalcolithic |stone]]") period or Copper Age, also known as the Eneolithic/Æneolithic , is a phase of the Bronze Age in which the addition of tin to copper to form bronze during smelting remained yet unknown by the metallurgists of the times...

 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
The human tapworm is a roundworm, which causes trichuriasis when it infects a human large intestine. The name whipworm refers to the shape of the worm; they look like whips with wider "handles" at the posterior end.-Life cycle:The female T. trichiura produces 2,000–10,000 single celled eggs per day...

 (Trichuris trichiura), an intestinal parasite. During CT
Computed tomography
X-ray computed tomography or Computer tomography , is a medical imaging method employing tomography created by computer processing...

 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
Beau's lines
Beau's lines are deep grooved lines that run from side to side on the fingernail. They may look like indentations or ridges in the nail plate. This condition of the nail was named by a French physician, Joseph Honoré Simon Beau , who first described it in 1846.Beau's lines are horizontal, going...

 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.


Ötzi had several carbon tattoo
A tattoo is made by inserting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment. Tattoos on humans are a type of body modification, and tattoos on other animals are most commonly used for identification purposes...

s including groups of short, parallel, vertical lines to both sides of the lumbar spine
Lumbar vertebrae
The lumbar vertebrae are the largest segments of the movable part of the vertebral column, and are characterized by the absence of the foramen transversarium within the transverse process, and by the absence of facets on the sides of the body...

, a cruciform
Cruciform means having the shape of a cross or Christian cross.- Cruciform architectural plan :This is a common description of Christian churches. In Early Christian, Byzantine and other Eastern Orthodox forms of church architecture this is more likely to mean a tetraconch plan, a Greek cross,...

 mark behind the right knee, and various marks around both ankles. Radiological
Radiology is a medical specialty that employs the use of imaging to both diagnose and treat disease visualized within the human body. Radiologists use an array of imaging technologies to diagnose or treat diseases...

 examination of his bones showed "age-conditioned or strain-induced degeneration" in these areas, including osteochondrosis
Osteochondrosis is a family of orthopedic diseases of the joint that occur in children and adolescents and in rapidly growing animals, particularly pigs, horses, and dogs. They are characterized by interruption of the blood supply of a bone, in particular to the epiphysis, followed by localized...

 and slight spondylosis
Spondylosis is a term referring to degenerative osteoarthritis of the joints between the centra of the spinal vertebrae and/or neural foraminae. If this condition occurs in the zygapophysial joints, it can be considered facet syndrome...

 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
Acupuncture is a type of alternative medicine that treats patients by insertion and manipulation of solid, generally thin needles in the body....

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
Jacqui Wood
Jacqui Wood is a British archaeologist and writer, specializing in the daily life of prehistoric Europeans.As of 2001, she is director of Saveock Water Archaeology, and also the director and founder of Cornwall Celtic Village, a reconstructed Bronze-Iron Age settlement.She was a member of the...

 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
Taxus baccata
Taxus baccata is a conifer native to western, central and southern Europe, northwest Africa, northern Iran and southwest Asia. It is the tree originally known as yew, though with other related trees becoming known, it may be now known as the English yew, or European yew.-Description:It is a small-...

 handle, a flint
Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as a variety of chert. It occurs chiefly as nodules and masses in sedimentary rocks, such as chalks and limestones. Inside the nodule, flint is usually dark grey, black, green, white, or brown in colour, and...

-bladed knife with an ash
Ash tree
Fraxinus is a genus flowering plants in the olive and lilac family, Oleaceae. It contains 45-65 species of usually medium to large trees, mostly deciduous though a few subtropical species are evergreen. The tree's common English name, ash, goes back to the Old English æsc, while the generic name...

 handle and a quiver
A quiver is a container for arrows. Quivers have been traditionally made of leather, bark, wood, furs and other natural materials; modern quivers are often made of metal and plastic....

 of 14 arrows with viburnum
Viburnum is a genus of about 150–175 species of shrubs or small trees in the moschatel family, Adoxaceae. Its current classification is based on molecular phylogeny...

 and dogwood
The genus Cornus is a group of about 30-60 species of woody plants in the family Cornaceae, commonly known as dogwoods. Most dogwoods are deciduous trees or shrubs, but a few species are nearly herbaceous perennial subshrubs, and a few of the woody species are evergreen...

 shafts. Two of the arrows, which were broken, were tipped with flint and had fletching
Fletching is the aerodynamic stabilization of arrows or darts with materials such as feathers, each piece of which is referred to as a fletch. The word is related to the French word flèche, meaning "arrow," via Old French; the ultimate root is Frankish fliukka...

 (stabilizing fins), while the other 12 were unfinished and untipped. The arrows were found in a quiver
A quiver is a container for arrows. Quivers have been traditionally made of leather, bark, wood, furs and other natural materials; modern quivers are often made of metal and plastic....

 with what is presumed to be a bow string
Bow string
A bow string joins the two ends of the bow stave and launches the arrow. Desirable properties include light weight, strength, resistance to abrasion, and resistance to water...

, an unidentified tool, and an antler
Antlers are the usually large, branching bony appendages on the heads of most deer species.-Etymology:Antler originally meant the lowest tine, the "brow tine"...

 tool which might have been used for sharpening arrow points. There was also an unfinished yew longbow
A longbow is a type of bow that is tall ; this will allow its user a fairly long draw, at least to the jaw....

 that was 1.82 metres (71.7 in) long.

In addition, among Ötzi's possessions were berries
The botanical definition of a berry is a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary. Grapes are an example. The berry is the most common type of fleshy fruit in which the entire ovary wall ripens into an edible pericarp. They may have one or more carpels with a thin covering and fleshy interiors....

, two birch bark
Birch bark
Birch bark or birchbark is the bark of several Eurasian and North American birch trees of the genus Betula.The strong and water-resistant cardboard-like bark can be easily cut, bent, and sewn, which made it a valuable building, crafting, and writing material, since pre-historic times...

 baskets, and two species of polypore
Polypores are a group of tough, leathery poroid mushrooms similar to boletes, but typically lacking a distinct stalk. The technical distinction between the two types of mushrooms is that polypores do not have the spore-bearing tissue continuous along the entire underside of the mushroom. Many...

A mushroom is the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground on soil or on its food source. The standard for the name "mushroom" is the cultivated white button mushroom, Agaricus bisporus; hence the word "mushroom" is most often applied to those fungi that...

s with leather strings through them. One of these, the birch fungus
Birch bracket
Piptoporus betulinus, commonly known as the birch polypore, birch bracket, or razor strop, is one of the most common polyporous bracket fungi and, as the name suggests, grows almost exclusively on birch trees. The brackets burst out from the bark of the tree, and these fruiting bodies can last for...

, is known to have antibacterial properties, and was likely 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
The mineral pyrite, or iron pyrite, is an iron sulfide with the formula FeS2. This mineral's metallic luster and pale-to-normal, brass-yellow hue have earned it the nickname fool's gold because of its resemblance to gold...

 for creating sparks.

Ötzi's copper axe was of particular interest, as it is the only complete prehistoric axe so far discovered. 60 centimetres (23.6 in) long, the axe's haft was made from yew tree bark, while the handle of the axe was made from yew branch and leather binding. The copper axe blade extended out of the leather binding and was 9.5 cm long. Ötzi lived 5,300 years ago, and humans were not thought to have discovered copper for another 1,000 years, forcing archaeologists to re-date the copper age
Copper Age
The Chalcolithic |stone]]") period or Copper Age, also known as the Eneolithic/Æneolithic , is a phase of the Bronze Age in which the addition of tin to copper to form bronze during smelting remained yet unknown by the metallurgists of the times...


Genetic analysis

A group of scientists have sequenced Ötzi's full genome and promised to reveal it in 2011. Dr. Eduard Egarter-Vigl said in an interview that the Y-DNA of Ötzi belongs to the subclade G2a4.
Analysis of his mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA is the DNA located in organelles called mitochondria, structures within eukaryotic cells that convert the chemical energy from food into a form that cells can use, adenosine triphosphate...

 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. He is most closely related to southern Europeans, particularly geographically isolated populations of Sardinia
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

, Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, and the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

. DNA analysis also showed him at high risk of atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is a condition in which an artery wall thickens as a result of the accumulation of fatty materials such as cholesterol...

 and the presence of the DNA sequence
DNA sequencing
DNA sequencing includes several methods and technologies that are used for determining the order of the nucleotide bases—adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine—in a molecule of DNA....

 of Borrelia burgdorferi
Borrelia burgdorferi
Borrelia burgdorferi is a species of Gram negative bacteria of the spirochete class of the genus Borrelia. B. burgdorferi is predominant in North America, but also exists in Europe, and is the agent of Lyme disease....

making him the earliest known human with Lyme disease
Lyme disease
Lyme disease, or Lyme borreliosis, is an emerging infectious disease caused by at least three species of bacteria belonging to the genus Borrelia. Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto is the main cause of Lyme disease in the United States, whereas Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii cause most...


Cause of death

Initial speculation

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
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

Human sacrifice
Human sacrifice is the act of killing one or more human beings as part of a religious ritual . Its typology closely parallels the various practices of ritual slaughter of animals and of religious sacrifice in general. Human sacrifice has been practised in various cultures throughout history...

, perhaps for being a chieftain
Tribal chief
A tribal chief is the leader of a tribal society or chiefdom. Tribal societies with social stratification under a single leader emerged in the Neolithic period out of earlier tribal structures with little stratification, and they remained prevalent throughout the Iron Age.In the case of ...

. This explanation was inspired by theories previously advanced for the first millennium B.C. bodies
Bog body
Bog bodies, which are also known as bog people, are the naturally preserved human corpses found in the sphagnum bogs in Northern Europe. Unlike most ancient human remains, bog bodies have retained their skin and internal organs due to the unusual conditions of the surrounding area...

 recovered from peat bogs
A bog, quagmire or mire is a wetland that accumulates acidic peat, a deposit of dead plant material—often mosses or, in Arctic climates, lichens....

 such as the Tollund Man
Tollund Man
The Tollund Man is the naturally mummified corpse of a man who lived during the 4th century BC, during the time period characterised in Scandinavia as the Pre-Roman Iron Age. He was found in 1950 buried in a peat bog on the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark, which preserved his body. Such a find is...

 and the Lindow Man
Lindow man
Lindow Man, also known as Lindow II and as Pete Marsh, is the preserved bog body of a man discovered in a peat bog at Lindow Moss near Wilmslow in Cheshire, North West England. The body was found on 1 August 1984 by commercial peat-cutters...


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
Bleeding, technically known as hemorrhaging or haemorrhaging is the loss of blood or blood escape from the circulatory system...

 from the wound, which would likely 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 bruise
A bruise, also called a contusion, is a type of relatively minor hematoma of tissue in which capillaries and sometimes venules are damaged by trauma, allowing blood to seep into the surrounding interstitial tissues. Bruises can involve capillaries at the level of skin, subcutaneous tissue, muscle,...

s and cuts to the hands, wrists and chest and cerebral trauma
Head injury
Head injury refers to trauma of the head. This may or may not include injury to the brain. However, the terms traumatic brain injury and head injury are often used interchangeably in medical literature....

 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
Rigor mortis
Rigor mortis is one of the recognizable signs of death that is caused by a chemical change in the muscles after death, causing the limbs of the corpse to become stiff and difficult to move or manipulate...

 set in, the Iceman was turned on to his stomach in the effort to remove the arrow shaft.

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
Mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA is the DNA located in organelles called mitochondria, structures within eukaryotic cells that convert the chemical energy from food into a form that cells can use, adenosine triphosphate...

 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.

Burial theory

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.

Legal dispute

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
Italian lira
The lira was the currency of Italy between 1861 and 2002. Between 1999 and 2002, the Italian lira was officially a “national subunit” of the euro...

 (€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 Slovenia
    Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

    n 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
    Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

     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
Court of Cassation (Italy)
The Supreme Court of Cassation is the major court of last resort in Italy. It has its seat in the Rome Hall of Justice.The Court of Cassation exists also to “ensure the observation and the correct interpretation of law” by ensuring the same application of law in the inferior and appeal courts...


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.

"Ötzi's curse"

Influenced by the "Curse of the Pharaohs
Curse of the Pharaohs
The curse of the pharaohs refers to the belief that any person who disturbs the mummy of an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh is placed under a curse.There are occasional instances of curses appearing inside or on the facade of a tomb as in the case of the mastaba of Khentika Ikhekhi of the 6th dynasty at...

" and the media theme of cursed mummies, claims have been made that Ötzi is curse
A curse is any expressed wish that some form of adversity or misfortune will befall or attach to some other entity—one or more persons, a place, or an object...

d. 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 is not peculiar.

See also

  • Mummy Juanita
    Mummy Juanita
    Momia Juanita , also known as the Inca Ice Maiden and Lady of Ampato, is the well-preserved frozen body of an Incan girl who was killed as an offering to the Inca gods sometime between 1450 and 1480, at approximately 11–15 years old...

  • Gebelein predynastic mummies
  • Tollund Man
    Tollund Man
    The Tollund Man is the naturally mummified corpse of a man who lived during the 4th century BC, during the time period characterised in Scandinavia as the Pre-Roman Iron Age. He was found in 1950 buried in a peat bog on the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark, which preserved his body. Such a find is...

  • Lindow Man
    Lindow man
    Lindow Man, also known as Lindow II and as Pete Marsh, is the preserved bog body of a man discovered in a peat bog at Lindow Moss near Wilmslow in Cheshire, North West England. The body was found on 1 August 1984 by commercial peat-cutters...

  • List of fossil sites
  • List of human evolution fossils

External links

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