Ötzi - Oldest European ever found
-- Iceman’s Genome Furnishes Clues to His Ailments and Ancestry - 2/28/12
-- New study of Iceman reveals oldest known example of red blood cells - 5/08/15
-- Surprising Facts About Otzi the Iceman - 8/16/13
-- Ötzi the Iceman - 5000 BC
-- Reported by the BBC:
-- Ötzi – a treacherous murder - 9/19/16
-- Additional Bronze-Age Items Found in Swiss Alps
-- The Icemans bow string has been identified -  12/24/19

 Ötzi – a treacherous murder – with links to Central Italy

9/19/2016 - (See download attachments bottom for reference)

Scientists present the latest findings at an International Mummy Congress

The copper used to make Ötzi’s axe blade did not come from the Alpine region as had previously been supposed, but from ore mined in southern Tuscany. Ötzi was probably not involved in working the metal himself, as the high levels of arsenic and copper found in his hair had, until now, led us to assume. His murder over 5,000 years ago seems to have been brought about due to a personal conflict a few days before his demise, and the man from the ice, despite his normal weight and active life-style, suffered from extensive vascular calcification. Scientists from all over the world presented these and other new insights, at the recent International Mummy Congress in Bozen-Bolzano. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Ötzi’s discovery, the three days of the Congress, from 19th to 21st September, are all dedicated to the man from the ice.

Since the man from the ice came on the scene on 19th September 1991, he has not ceased to fascinate scientists from all over the world. No corpse has been more thoroughly investigated. “In terms of his significance for science, Ötzi is not simply an isolated mummy discovery. He could be seen as a typical European from earlier times and is precious for this reason alone,” explained the anthropologist Albert Zink from EURAC Research, the scientific leader of the congress. “Ötzi is so well preserved as a glacier mummy and through this alone, he serves us researchers as a model for developing scientific methods which can then be used on other mummies,” said Zink. “What concerns us most these days is to know who the man from the ice was, what role he played in society and what happened to him in the last days of his life. Sophisticated procedures, now available to scientists, are continually supplying us with new evidence,” said Angelika Fleckinger, Director of the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology which helped to organise the Congress.

Links to Central Italy

One surprising new fact has been unearthed which concerns the most extraordinary item amongst Ötzi’s equipment – the valuable copper axe. In contrast to what had previously been presumed, the copper used in the blade does not derive from the Alpine region (researchers had suggested East or North Tyrol as the most likely provenance) but from Central Italy. Professor Gilberto Artioli‘s archaeometallurgy research group at the University of Padua has discovered that the metal had been obtained from ore mined in South Tuscany.
In order to determine its origin, Italian scientists took a tiny sample from the blade and compared the proportion of lead isotope – a kind of “finger print” of the ore deposits which remains unchanged in any objects subsequently made from the ore – with the corresponding data from numerous mineral deposits in Europe and the entire Mediterranean region. The result pointed unequivocally to South Tuscany.
“No one was prepared for this finding. We will commission further analyses in order to double-check these first results” stressed Angelika Fleckinger. If the original results are confirmed, this new evidence will give researchers some interesting food for thought. Was Ötzi as a trader travelling possibly as far as the area around today’s Florence? What was the nature of the trading and cultural links with the south in those days? Did the exchange of goods also involve movements of the population? That is to say, did people from the south venture into the Alpine region and vice versa? “This is a particularly exciting insight especially with respect to questions about population development”, explained Albert Zink.

Was he or was he not involved in smelting copper?

Another question long debated amongst the scientific community, is whether Ötzi was perhaps involved himself in the process of copper smelting. Scientists have advocated this thesis because raised arsenic and copper levels have been measured in the mummy’s hair, a fact which might possibly be explained, for example, by breathing in the smoke which is released when melting and pouring metal.
Geochemist Wolfgang Müller of Royal Holloway, University of London, who had already used isotope analysis to establish Ötzi’s South Tyrol origins, has now turned to this question once more. Using highly developed methods of analysis such as laser mass spectrometry and speciation analysis, Müller’s team examined not just hairs but also samples from Ötzi’s nails, skin and organs for possible heavy metal contamination.
His, so far still provisional, findings suggest that the hypothesis that Ötzi was involved in processing metal was premature. Müller did indeed find slightly raised arsenic values in the nail sample, but not in other tissue samples. Raised copper levels were only present at the extremities and this correlates with other change indicators, and thus it is doubtful if one can establish a heavy metal contamination for Ötzi’s actual life time: raised values might also be due to environmental influences over the 5,000 years since his death.

Radiological investigations with the latest CT equipment

A new computer tomography (CT) scan of the man from the ice was undertaken by radiologists Paul Gostner and Patrizia Pernter in January 2013 in the Department of Radiology of Bozen-Bolzano Hospital. To do this they used a CT-scanner of the latest generation which, thanks to its large opening, allowed the doctors to run Ötzi rapidly through the machine from head to toe despite the way his arm is angled. In addition to the vascular calcification in the arteries of his stomach and legs which had already been known about, the superior image allowed doctors to spot three small areas of calcification near to the outflow tracts of the heart which had hitherto escaped their notice. This substantiates the earlier finding made by molecular biologists in EURAC that Ötzi had a strong genetic predisposition to cardiovascular diseases and that this was probably also the main reason for his general arteriosclerosis.

Investigations of a “profiler”

Ötzi was murdered. The arrow head discovered in 2001 in his left shoulder suggests this. But what were the circumstances surrounding the crime? In 2014 the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology commissioned Chief Inspector Alexander Horn of the Munich Criminal Investigation Department to investigate the “Ötzi Murder Case” using the latest criminological methods. Horn interrogated various “acquaintances” of the murder victim such as archaeologists from the museum who had been looking after Ötzi for years, or experts from forensic medicine, radiology and anthropology. Members of the project team also took part in an on-site inspection of the location in Schnals where the body was found. The results of this investigation were that Ötzi probably did not feel threatened shortly before his murder, because the situation at the Tisenjoch location where he was found indicates that he had been resting while enjoying a hearty meal. In the days prior to the murder he had incurred an injury to his right hand, probably as a result of defensive action during the course of a physical altercation. No further injuries could be found, and this might serve to indicate that he had not been defeated in this particular conflict. The arrow shot, which was probably fatal, seems to have been launched from a great distance and took the victim by surprise, from which we may infer that it was an act of treachery. Further medical findings suggest that the victim fell and that the perpetrator used no further violence. The perpetrator probably did not wish to risk a physical altercation, but instead chose a long distance attack to kill the man from the ice. As valuable objects such as the copper axe remained at the crime scene, theft can be excluded as the motive. The reason for the offence is more likely to be found in some sort of personal conflict situation, in a previous hostile encounter – “a behavioural pattern which is prevalent even today in the bulk of murder crimes”, as Alexander Horn explained.
Laura Defranceschi, laura.defranceschi@eurac.edu, T +39 0471 055 037
Katharina Hersel, Katharina.Hersel@iceman.it, T +39 0471 320114

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jpg Mumie an der Fundstelle/mummia al luogo di ritrovamento/mummy at the finding place: © Paul Hanny
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jpg Similaun Gletscher/ghiacciaio del Similaun/Similaun glacier: © Südtiroler Archäologiemuseum/Museo Archeologico dell’Alto Adige/South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/Lukas Aichner
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jpg Fundstelle/luogo di ritrovamento/finding place: © Südtiroler Archäologiemuseum/Museo Archeologico dell’Alto Adige/South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/Lukas Aichner
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jpg Thorax Röntgenbild/raggi x del torace/thorax x-ray: © Südtiroler Archäologiemuseum/Regionalkrankenhaus Bozen © Museo Archeologico dell’Alto Adige/Ospedale Regionale di Bolzano © South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/Regional Hospital of Bolzano
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jpg Thorax 3D Computer Tomografie/ TAC in 3D del torace/Thorax 3D CT Scan: © Südtiroler Archäologiemuseum/Regionalkrankenhaus Bozen © Museo Archeologico dell’Alto Adige/Ospedale Regionale di Bolzano © South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/Regional Hospital of Bolzano
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jpg Pfeilverletzung/ferita causata dalla freccia/arrow’s injury: © Südtiroler Archäologiemuseum/Museo Archeologico dell’Alto Adige/South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology
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jpg Handverletzung/ferita alla mano/hand’s injury: © Südtiroler Archäologiemuseum/Museo Archeologico dell’Alto Adige/South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology
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jpg Handverletzung/ferita alla mano/hand’s injury: © Südtiroler Archäologiemuseum/Museo Archeologico dell’Alto Adige/South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology
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jpg Röntgenbild Handverletzung/raggi x della ferita alla mano/ x-ray of hand’s injury: © Südtiroler Archäologiemuseum/Regionalkrankenhaus Bozen © Museo Archeologico dell’Alto Adige/Ospedale Regionale di Bolzano © South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/Regional Hospital of Bolzano
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jpg Ötzis Beil/ascia di Ötzi/Ötzi’s axe: © Museo Archeologico dell’Alto Adige/Südtiroler Archäologiemuseum/South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology
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jpg Ötzis Beil/ascia di Ötzi/Ötzi’s axe: © Museo Archeologico dell’Alto Adige/Südtiroler Archäologiemuseum/South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology
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Ötzi Receives Cardiovascular Check-Up

May 30, 2018

Otzi artery calcifications
(© South Tyrol Museum of Archaeologiemuseum/ O. Verant)

BOLZANO, ITALY—Scientists have examined a full-body computed tomography scan of Ötzi the Iceman for evidence of his heart health, according to a report in Live Science. Ötzi is the name given to the man whose naturally mummified, 5,300-year-old remains were discovered frozen in the Alps by hikers in 1991. Previous studies have determined that Ötzi may have suffered from bad teeth and knees, propensity to ulcers, and perhaps even Lyme disease, before he likely died around the age of 46 from a blow to the head and an arrow wound in his shoulder. The new study has revealed three calcifications in the region of his heart. Scientists say these hardened plaques put him at an increased risk of a heart attack. He also had calcifications around his carotid artery, and in the arteries at the base of his skull, which could have increased his risk of stroke. An earlier study had found that Ötzi carried a genetic predisposition for atherosclerosis, or a narrowing of the arteries from fatty deposits. Patrizia Pernter, a radiologist at the Central Hospital in Bozen-Bolzano and a member of the research team, said this was probably the most important factor in Ötzi’s heart disease, since he was fit and didn’t smoke tobacco. For more, go to “Ötzi’s Sartorial Splendor.”


 Additional Bronze-Age Items Found in Swiss Alps

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

BERN, SWITZERLAND—The Local reports that snow melt in the Lötschberg Pass, a shortcut between the Bernese Oberland and the Valais, has revealed additional items in a cache of Bronze Age artifacts. Researchers from the Archaeological Service of the Canton of Bern say the cache included a wooden box of flour, fragments of bows, flint arrowheads, birch bark, a cord made of animal fibers, and a container made of cow horn. Radiocarbon dates suggest the box was left behind by a mountain traveler some 4,000 years ago. For more, go to “Switzerland Everlasting.”

 Iceman’s Genome Furnishes Clues to His Ailments and Ancestry

February 28, 2012     By Kate Wong    

The Iceman is a 5,300-year-old mummy discovered in the Ötzal Alps.
 Image: Samadelli Marco/EURAC

Ever since two hikers happened upon the mummified body of Ötzi the Iceman on a high mountain pass in the Ötzal Alps in 1991, scientists have been working to figure out who he was and where he came from. Previous research indicated that Ötzi spent his life within a 60-kilometer radius of where the hikers found him and died around 5,300 years ago, most likely from an arrow wound in his shoulder. Now the sequencing of his genome is allowing experts to fill in more details, such as the color of his eyes, his cardiovascular health and where his ancestors originated.

Albert Zink of the European Academy of Bozen/Bolzano in Italy and his colleagues report the results of the sequencing work in a paper published today in Nature Communications (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group). The team found that the Iceman probably had brown eyes and type O blood. He was also most likely lactose intolerant as an adult. Analyses further revealed that the Iceman had several genetic risk factors for coronary heart disease. Several years ago, computer tomography scans of the mummy showed evidence of arteriosclerosis—hardening of the arteries—yet he appeared to have a healthy lifestyle. The new work suggests that a genetic predisposition to heart disease might explain the arteriosclerosis visible in the CT scans. Cardiovascular disease may not have been the Iceman’s only health issue. The investigators also found traces of DNA from the bacterial pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease in humans—the oldest such case on record.

Intriguingly, comparison of the Iceman’s genome with DNA from present-day populations linked him not to mainland European groups, but to people from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia.  Study co-author Peter Underhill of Stanford University observes that there are two possibilities for how someone with a Sardinian genetic signature ended up in the Alps 5,300 years ago.   ”The presence of similar genetic heritage to [the] Iceman persisting in modern day Sardinians is suggestive that Sardinia represents a relic distribution of the gene pool that was in place on the Italian mainland during prehistoric times but now has largely been transformed by subsequent population events such as migrations, genetic mixing, etc.,” he offers.   “Sometime during the past [10,000] years some people with a genetic constitution similar to [the] Iceman’s colonized Sardinia.   This isolated region/gene pool was more impervious to events that transpired on the mainland.” Alternatively, Underhill notes, the Iceman’s parents may have traveled to the mainland from Sardinia.   Archaeologists have found volcanic glass (obsidian) on the mainland that originated from Mt. Arci on Sardinia, indicating that trade existed between Sardinia and the mainland. Perhaps the Iceman’s parents were involved in that trade, Underhill speculates.*

“Further ancient DNA analyses from these regions will be necessary to fully understand the genetic structure of ancient Alpine communities and migration patterns between the insular and mainland Mediterranean,” the researchers conclude.

About the Author: Kate Wong is an editor and writer at Scientific American covering paleontology, archaeology and life sciences.
The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
Scientific American is a trademark of Scientific American, Inc., used with permission

Article from Discovery Magazine:

Continuing the discussion- extracted with edit:  Ötzi the Iceman and the Sardinians

New insights into the Tyrolean Iceman’s origin and phenotype as inferred by whole-genome sequencingis now reported.  It seems he was killed but his corpse was preserved leaving enough tissue so that researchers have been able to amplify his DNA.   Now they’ve sequenced it to the point where they can make some inferences about his phenotypic characteristics, and, his phylogenetic relationships to modern populations.

This paper will not be particularly surprising to close readers of this weblog.   The guesses of some readers based on what the researchers hinted were correct: Ötzi seems to resemble most closely the people of Sardinia.   One reason is prosaic.  The HGDP sample used in the test includes many Northern Italians (from Bergamo).   Why is it that Ötzi does not resemble the people from the region that he was indigenous to? (we know that he was indigenous because of the ratio of isotopes in his body) A more abstruse issue is that Sardinians have remained moored to their genetic past, enough so that a 5,300 year old individual clearly can exhibit affinities with them.   The distinctiveness of Sardinians jumps out at you when you analyze genetic data sets.   They were clearly set apart in L. L. Cavalli-Sforza’s "The History and Geography of Human Genes", 20 years ago.   One reason that Sardinians may be distinctive is that Sardinia is an isolated island.   Islands experience reduced gene flow because being surrounded by water makes travel more difficult.   And sure enough, Sardinians are especially similar to each other in relation to other European populations.

But Ötzi’s affinities reduce the strength of this particular dynamic as an explanation for Sardinian distinctiveness.   Genetic variation has been plotted showing the primary cline of genetic variation in Europe is North-South, with a secondary one going from West-East.   The “Europe S” cluster includes northern, southern, and Sicilian Italians.   Ötzi is closest to a large cluster of Sardinians.    Interestingly there are also a few others.   I do not know who they are because I do not have access to the supplements.  The Sardinian plots being closer to the continental populations than Ötzi is also striking.   But totally intelligible: Sardinia has had some gene flow with other Mediterranean populations.   This obviously post-dates Ötzi; Roman adventurers and Genoaese magnates could not be in his genealogy because Rome and Genoa did not exist 5,300 years ago.   These data strongly point to the possibility of rather major genetic changes in continental Europe, and in particular Italy, since the Copper Age.   Juvenal complained that the “River Orantes has long flowed into the Tiber,” a reference to the prominence of easterners, Greek and non-Greek, in the city of Rome.   The impact of this is not to be dismissed, but I do not think that it gets to the heart of this matter.

Ötzi is actually closer to the “Middle Eastern” cluster in the plot than many Italians!   In fact, more than most.   I suspect that rather than the Orantes, the Rhine and the Elbe have had more of an impact on the genetic character of Italians over the past 5,000 years.   Before Lombardy was Lombardy, named for a German tribe, it was Cisapline Gaul, after the Celts who had settled it. And before that? For that you have to ask where Indo-Europeans came from.   I suspect the answer is that they came from the north, and therefore brought northern genes.

And what of the Sardinians?   I believe that the “islanders” of the Mediterranean are a relatively “pristine” snapshot of a particular moment in the history of the region. This is evident in Dienekes’ Dodecad Ancestry Project.   Unlike their mainland cousins both the Sardinians and Cypriots tend to lack a “Northern European” component.   Are the islanders in part descendants of the Paleolithic populations?   In part. Sardinians carry a relatively high fraction of the U5 haplogroup, which has been associated with ancient hunter-gatherer remains.   But it is also possible that the preponderant aspect of Sardinian ancestry derives from the first farmers to settle the Western Mediterranean.   I say this because the Iceman carried the G2a Y haplogroup, which has of late been strongly associated with very early Neolithic populations in Western Europe.   And interestingly some scholars have discerned a pre-Indo-European substrate in Sardinian which suggests a connection to the Basque.   I wouldn’t read too much into that, but these questions need to be explored, as Ötzi’s genetic nature makes Sardiniaology more critical to understanding the European past.

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 New study of Iceman reveals oldest known example of red blood cells

May 08, 2015 by Bob Yirka report

A team of researchers with the European Academy of Bozen (EURAC) aka, the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, Italy, has found examples of the oldest known samples of red blood cells. In their paper uploaded to the open access site, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, the team explains how they found the red blood cells and why they now believe the Iceman died very quickly.

The Iceman as he has come to be known, (also known as Ötzi) has been the object of intense scrutiny ever since being found embedded in an Alpine glacier back in 1991—he is believed to have died approximately 5,300 years ago. Attempts to find examples of actual red blood cells within his body have failed in the past, but in this new effort, the researchers used a new technique—a nano-sized probe they moved very slowly over parts of the mummified body that had been wounded, leading to open cuts. Because it moves, the probe allows for capturing 3D imagery—it revealed the clear doughnut shape of red blood cells. To confirm that the images they were seeing represented real red blood cells, the team shone a laser on the same material and read the wavelengths that were reflected back—that revealed that the molecular makeup of the material matched that of red blood cells—a finding that marks the oldest known preserved instance of a red blood cell.

Scientists believe the Iceman was approximately 46 years old when he died—other research has led to the discovery that he suffered from a variety of illnesses and injuries and his skin was decorated with many tattoos, most of which are believed to have been applied as a means of alleviating joint pain, possibly due to arthritis or inflammation caused by Lyme Disease.

Also, by using Raman spectroscopy, the researchers found traces of fibrin, a clotting agent the body makes immediately after an injury occurs, which suggests very strongly that the Iceman died shortly after he was wounded—it is generally absorbed shortly after an injury occurs as other agents take over. Because it was still present near the Iceman's wound suggests he died shortly after it was inflicted, likely from a blow to the head.

More information: Preservation of 5300 year old red blood cells in the Iceman, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2012.0174

Changes in elasticity and structures of red blood cells (RBCs) are important indicators of disease, and this makes them interesting for medical studies. In forensics, blood analyses represent a crucial part of crime scene investigations. For these reasons, the recovery and analysis of blood cells from ancient tissues is of major interest. In this study, we show that RBCs were preserved in Iceman tissue samples for more than 5000 years. The morphological and molecular composition of the blood corpuscle is verified by atomic force microscope and Raman spectroscopy measurements. The cell size and shape approximated those of healthy, dried, recent RBCs. Raman spectra of the ancient corpuscle revealed bands that are characteristic of haemoglobin. Additional vibrational modes typical for other proteinaceous fragments, possibly fibrin, suggested the formation of a blood clot. The band intensities, however, were approximately an order of magnitude weaker than those of recent RBCs. This fact points to a decrease in the RBC-specific metalloprotein haemoglobin and, thus, to a degradation of the cells. Together, the results show the preservation of RBCs in the 5000 year old mummy tissue and give the first insights into their degradation.


 Surprising Facts About Otzi the Iceman

Scholars continue to be amazed by the ancient man found frozen in the Alps.

PUBLISHED OCTOBER 16, 2013 James Owen for National Geographic

A report that Ötzi the Iceman has 19 genetic relatives living in Austria is the latest in a string of surprising discoveries surrounding the famed ice mummy. Ötzi's 5,300-year-old corpse turned up on the mountain border between Austria and Italy in 1991. Here is a rundown of the latest on the world's oldest Alpine celebrity, and some of the other remarkable things we've learned about Ötzi.

(Read "Unfrozen" from the November 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine.)

1. The Iceman has living relatives.

Living links to the Iceman have now been revealed by a new DNA study. Gene researchers looking at unusual markers on the Iceman's male sex chromosome report that they have uncovered at least 19 genetic relatives of Ötzi in Austria's Tyrol region.

The match was made from samples of 3,700 anonymous blood donors in a study led by Walther Parson at Innsbruck Medical University. Sharing a rare mutation known as G-L91, "the Iceman and those 19 share a common ancestor, who may have lived 10,000 to 12,000 years ago," Parson said.

The finding supports previous research suggesting that Ötzi and his ancestors were of farming stock. The study used Y-chromosome markers that are passed from father to son to trace the Neolithic migrations that brought farming to Europe via the Alps. Ötzi belonged to a Y-chromosome group called haplogroup G, which is rooted, like farming, in the Middle East.

The study's overall results fit the idea that the changes of the Neolithic Revolution spurred people westward into the Tyrol region, Parson said.

He is nevertheless wary of any suggestion that Ötzi's distant relatives might be a chip off the old block, either physically or in their liking for simple grain porridge.

2. He had several health issues.

Since Ötzi's discovery in an alpine glacier more than two decades ago, scientists have subjected his mummy to a full-body health check. The findings don't make pretty reading. The 40-something's list of complaints include worn joints, hardened arteries, gallstones, and a nasty growth on his little toe (perhaps caused by frostbite).

Furthermore, the Iceman's gut contained the eggs of parasitic worms, he likely had Lyme disease, and he had alarming levels of arsenic in his system (probably due to working with metal ores and copper extraction). Ötzi was also in need of a dentist—an in-depth dental examination found evidence of advanced gum disease and tooth decay. (See video: "Iceman Autopsy.")

Despite all this, and a fresh arrow wound to his shoulder, it was a sudden blow to the head that proved fatal to Ötzi.

3. He also had anatomical abnormalities.

Besides his physical ailments, the Iceman had several anatomical abnormalities. He lacked both wisdom teeth and a 12th pair of ribs. The mountain man also sported a caddish gap between his two front teeth, known as a diastema. Whether this impressed the ladies is a moot point—some researchers suspect Ötzi might have been infertile.

4. The Iceman was inked.

Ötzi's frozen mummy preserves a fine collection of Copper Age tattoos. Numbering over 50 in total, they cover him from head to foot. These weren't produced using a needle, but by making fine cuts in the skin and then rubbing in charcoal. The result was a series of lines and crosses mostly located on parts of the body that are prone to injury or pain, such as the joints and along the back. This has led some researchers to believe that the tattoos marked acupuncture points.

If so, Ötzi must have needed a lot of treatment, which, given his age and ailments, isn't so surprising. The oldest evidence for acupuncture, Ötzi's tattoos suggest that the practice was around at least 2,000 years earlier than previously thought.

5. He consumed pollen and goats.

The Iceman's final meals have served up a feast of information to scholars. His stomach contained 30 different types of pollen. Analysis of that pollen shows that Ötzi died in spring or early summer, and it has even enabled researchers to trace his movements through different mountain elevations just before he died. His partially digested last meal suggests he ate two hours before his grisly end. It included grains and meat from an ibex, a species of nimble-footed wild goat.


The Neolithic period as a notion is based on an idea of an Old Stone Age (Paleolithic) and New Stone Age (Neolithic).   The definition of Neolithic is now seen as a "package" of characteristics: groundstone tools, rectangular buildings, pottery, people living in settled villages and, most importantly, the production of food by developing a working relationship with animals and plants called domestication.

  Ötzi the Iceman (pronounced ertsie), Similaun Man, 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, 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) Europeans.  His body and belongings are displayed in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy.

 Free reconstruction of equipment said to depict the original equipment of Ötzi the Iceman now at the Museum Bélesta (Pyrénées-Orientales), France.

 Living Relatives of Iceman Mummy Found

Oct 14, 2013 11:55 AM ET // by Rossella Lorenzi

Ötzi the Iceman has at least 19 living male relatives in the Austrian Tirol, according to a genetic study into the origins of the people who now inhabit the region.

Scientists from the Institute of Legal Medicine at Innsbruck Medical University analyzed DNA samples taken from 3,700 blood donors in the Tyrol region of Austria.

During their study, they discovered that 19 individuals share a particular genetic mutation with the 5,300-year-old mummy, whose full genome was published last year.

PHOTOS: Iceman Mummy 20 Yrs later: Mysteries Remain

“These men and the Iceman had the same ancestors,” Walther Parson, the forensic scientist who carried out the study, told the Austrian Press Agency.  The researchers focused on parts of the human DNA which are generally inherited unchanged.

“In men it is the Y chromosomes and in females the mitochondria.  Eventual changes arise due to mutations, which are then inherited further,”
Parson explained.

People with the same mutations are categorized in haplogroups. Designed with letters, haplogroups allow researchers to trace early migratory routes since they are often associated with defined populations and geographical regions.

Indeed, Ötzi’s haplogroup is very rare in Europe.   “The Iceman had the halogroup G, sub category G-L91.   In our research we found another 19 people with this genetic group and subgroup,” Parson said.  

ANALYSIS: The Ice Mummy: Little-Known Facts

Having carried Y chromosome haplogroup analysis, Parson was able to trace only the male descendants of the Neolithic man.   So far the 19 individuals have not been informed of their genetic relationship to Ötzi.

Found in 1991 in a melting glacier in the Ötztal Alps (hence the name), the mummy is one of the most heavily investigated human corpses of all time.

Scientists discovered that Ötzi had brown eyes and very bad teeth, was lactose intolerant, had a genetic predisposition for an increased risk for coronary heart disease and probably had Lyme disease.

It’s certain he died a violent death: In 2007, CT scans showed that an arrowhead had lacerated his left subclavian artery, leading to fast bleeding.

ANALYSIS: The Iceman Suffered Brain Damage Before Death

CAT scan of the mummy’s brain and a paleoproteomic study have recently pointed to a cerebral trauma — a violent blow to the head — as the cause of death.

As investigation into the mummy continues, new relatives, alive and well, could be added to the list of the 19 descendants.   According to Parson, the genetic mutation might be also found in the nearby Swiss region of Engadine and in Italy’s South Tyrol region.   “We have already found Swiss and Italian partners so that we can continue our research,” he said.

Image: Facial reconstruction of Ötzi the Iceman. Credit: Heike Engel-21Lux/SÜdtiroler Archäologiemuseum

Ötzi the Iceman’s Maternal Line May Be Extinct

BOLZANO, ITALY—A recent study of a DNA sample from the 5,300-year-old frozen mummy known as Ötzi the Iceman showed that his paternal genetic line, named G2a, is still present in modern populations. But a new study, conducted by researchers from the European Academy of Bolzano (EURAC), indicates that his genetic maternal line is now extinct. The researchers compared Ötzi’s ancient maternal line, named K1f, with 1,077 modern samples from the K1 lineage, including samples collected in the eastern Alps, which would presumably still be connected to the Iceman. An earlier study of Ötzi’s mitochondrial DNA compared it to only 85 modern samples, none of which came from the eastern Alps. The new study concluded that the Iceman’s lineage and any that might have been close to it have died out. Comparison of Ötzi’s genetic material with other European Neolithic samples suggests that his paternal lineage arrived from the Near East some 8,000 years ago, and was very common in Europe, while his maternal lineage probably originated in, and only existed in, the Alps. To read more about Ötzi the Iceman, go to "Heart Attack of the Mummies."

Otzi the Iceman's bowstring identified by scientists

By Christopher Carbone

Published December 24, 2019

Swiss scientists have determined that a cord found next to the body of a Neolithic hunter was a bowstring.

“Otzi now holds another record: his artfully twisted string is the oldest known bowstring in the world and also the best preserved,” the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology said in a statement. “Otzi carefully wrapped it up into an S-shaped bundle and tied a knot at the end.”

The Iceman has long fascinated researchers, who have learned about his diet and his health over the years since his discovery in 1991.

The cord is said to be six feet long, which is reportedly almost the same length as the bow found beside the iceman's mummified body.

A length of cord has been identified as a string for his wooden bow. (South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology)

The Swiss scientists were able to show that leg sinews from an unidentified species were processed as fibers and the cord was therefore very well suited for use as a bowstring, according to their statement. Previously, research had been done on plant fibers that would not have proven successful as a bowstring.

The ancient hunter is believed to have died around 3,300 B.C. at the age of 45 or so, which was considered old back then.

"Prehistoric bowstrings are among the rarest of all finds in archaeological excavations," the museum explained in its statment. "The cord contained in Otzi’s quiver may be the oldest preserved bowstring in the world."

Otzi is being held in a climate-controlled chamber at the musuem. His mummified body was first discovered by hikers in the Alps.


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