Study Alters Cold Case Death Theory: Iceman's Body May Have Been Carried to Burial Site in Alps

By Bower, Bruce | Science News, September 25, 2010 | Go to article overview

Study Alters Cold Case Death Theory: Iceman's Body May Have Been Carried to Burial Site in Alps


Bower, Bruce, Science News


A prehistoric man whose naturally mummified body was discovered frozen in the Italian Alps may have been toted up the mountain by his peers.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The Iceman, also nicknamed Otzi, lived between 5,375 and 5,100 years ago. Hikers noticed him poking out of a glacier in 1991. Since the discovery in

2001 of a stone point in Otzi's left shoulder, many scientists have assumed that someone shot and killed him with an arrow as he fled through a mountain pass. But a new analysis of the distribution of Otzi's belongings around his body, published in the September Antiquity, suggests that he perished near kin at low altitudes, who took him to the mountains for a final send-off.

Otzi originally was placed on a group of stones that formed a platform about five meters, or about 16 feet, uphill from the spot where hikers found him splayed in a gully, assert archaeologist Alessandro Vanzetti of the Sapienza University of Rome and his colleagues. Snow and ice that originally held the body in place partly thawed during occasional warm periods, creating a watery mix that swept the Iceman and some of his effects, including a wooden bow and copper ax, off the platform, the scientists propose* Otzi's body then gradually slid downhill and lodged against a boulder, with his left arm twisted at an odd angle, they assert. …

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