Human Evolution

Otzi, the 5,300 year old Iceman from the Alps

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James Neill
Last updated:
27 Oct 2004

5,300 year old Iceman discovered in Austrian Alps, 1991

In 1991, a 5,300 year old Neolithic man was discovered by hikers during the summer snowmelt in the Austrian Alps.  The iceman's body was remarkably intact as were his bow and arrows, dagger, copper axe and other tools, as well as his clothing including a hide coat, grass cloak, leggings, loin cloth and shoes.

A complex drama followed in how to manage "Otzi", the ice mummy.  The story is told in in a book by Brenda Fowler (see cover below - highly recommended). 

The gradually emerging scientific findings about Otzi's life have been remarkable. 

For example, the style of the copper axe and the copper in Otzi's hair suggest that he smelted copper himself using surprisingly advanced techniques.  Otzi's last meal was found in his intestine -- eaten about 8 hours before he died, consisting of a grain and herb unleavened bread.  But many mysteries remain, such as the story behind the tattoos that covered Otzi's body.

(Mummy photograph from www.pbs.org; Axe photograph from dsc.discover.com)


(picture from www.amazon.com)


(photograph from www.archaeologiemuseum.it)

Explore the links to learn more....


(photograph from www.trussel.com)