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Researchers Revisit Circumstances of Ötzi the Iceman's Death

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

INNLANDET COUNTY, NORWAY—Live Science reports that a new study of Ötzi the Iceman, who perished in the Italian Alps some 5,300 years ago, suggests that he might not have died in the gully where his mummified body was found. When Ötzi's body was found in 1991, archaeologists surmised that the man's body, clothing, and associated artifacts, including a backpack, bow, and quiver of arrows, had been preserved in place by the ice of a moving glacier. An arrowhead embedded in his shoulder, as well as a deep cut on his hand, indicated that Ötzi was probably killed during a conflict. Now, researchers led by archaeologist Lars Pilø of the Secrets of the Ice project propose that Ötzi died on the surface of an ice patch, and that his body and belongings were carried into the gully by periodic occurrences of ice thawing and then refreezing. The team also thinks that damage to Ötzi's equipment, which earlier researchers ascribed to combat, was likely caused by pressure from the surrounding ice. "There’s definitely been a conflict," Pilø said. "But what we say is that the damage to the artifacts is more easily explained by natural processes." Read the original scholarly article about this research in The Holocene. To read about analysis of Ötzi's clothing, go to "Ötzi's Sartorial Splendor."

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