Unveiling the Secrets of a 5,300-Year-Old Mystery: New Study Sheds Light on Ötzi the Iceman’s Tragic Death

by 29lab 26-05-2023

In 1991, a hiker stumbled upon a mummified body in the Ötztal Alps, between Austria and Italy, that turned out to be one of the oldest and best-preserved human remains ever found. Nicknamed Ötzi the Iceman, the 5,300-year-old man has fascinated scientists and the public alike with his intricate tattoos, well-preserved clothes and gear, and mysterious cause of death. Now, a new study sheds light on the long-standing mystery and reveals the tragic fate of Ötzi.

Led by Dr. Frank Rühli, a paleopathologist at the University of Zurich, the research team analyzed CT scans, radiocarbon dating, and biomolecular data from Ötzi’s remains to reconstruct his final moments. Their findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, suggest that Ötzi died of a combination of factors, including a lethal arrow wound, head trauma, and exposure to cold weather.

“The evidence indicates that Ötzi suffered a fatal injury from an arrow that pierced his left shoulder and likely hit a major artery,” Dr. Rühli explained in a press conference. “The arrowhead was still lodged in his back, which suggests that he didn’t survive long after being shot.”

The researchers also found signs of a blow to Ötzi’s head, possibly from falling or being hit, as well as evidence of internal bleeding and a cut on his right hand. Moreover, they identified traces of blood from several individuals on Ötzi’s clothes and weapons, indicating that he may have been involved in a violent conflict before his death.

However, the team notes that the arrow wound alone would not have been enough to kill Ötzi, who probably succumbed to hypothermia and shock in the cold, wet environment. The fact that Ötzi was found lying face-down in a mountain stream, with one arm raised in a defensive posture, supports this theory.

“The death of Ötzi was likely sudden and traumatic, but also preceded by a prolonged period of physical and emotional stress,” Dr. Rühli said. “We can only imagine the pain and fear he must have experienced in his final hours and minutes.”

Ötzi’s body is currently on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy, where visitors can marvel at the incredible preservation and learn about the life and times of this ancient hunter-gatherer. The new study adds to our understanding of Ötzi’s legacy and the challenges he faced in a harsh and unforgiving world.