There’s many ways a body can be preserved. One is by peat, as we have seen with the bog bodies. Another is by ice – which proved the case with the oldest frozen body ever found – 5,300 years old!. This body found high in the mountains between the borders of Italy and the Austrian has become known as Oetzi or Otzi because he was found in the Otztal area.
He was found by two hikers in 1991. His body was lay face down with his hat near him and his axe leaning against a rock. By analysing the ice that he was preserved in scientists were able not only to pinpoint when he died but even what season he died in by the pollen contained in the ice – which was Autumn.
It was first thought that Otzi was a shepherd, returning home with his herd , that he had gotten into a fight and fled to the mountains and died of injuries to his chest. But later tests revealed that Otzi had actually died between the months of March and June (Spring) because of unusual pollen found in his stomachs contents.
Further tests also revealed that the snow around Otzi had melted at least once, displacing the objects around him and that the ribs had been damaged after death, not before.
In 2001 his body was X rayed again, this time scientist discovered a stone axe head embedded in the man’s shoulder. So the latest theory is that Otzi was attacked, he ran off, and someone shot him in the back with an arrow. He managed to pull out the arrow, but the head lay embedded in his shoulder. Weak from his injuries he lay down and died in the mountains.
Still more further tests revealed that Otzi may have been a Copper smelter owing to levels of copper particles found in his hair, but some still hold to the shepherd theory as the man was of sturdy robust build.
Otzi’s body still holds secrets, though it is thought that he was a man in his 40s, about 5ft 4 in height.. A reconstruction of the man
Otzi has several tattoos on his body (59 in total!). His hand had been tattooed with a kind of ink made of soot, and perhaps these were not merely for decoration – they may have served a therapeutic or even medicinal purpose (see here)
Read other facts and the curse of the iceman here
Otzi website with close up images including his tattoos here
Detailed descriptions of Otzi’s possessions and images here
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