Otzi The Iceman

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Otzi - The Iceman



Ötzi, the Iceman was found near Hauslabjoch in the Ötzal Alps in September 1991 by two German hikers at the altitude of 10,500 feet. The Iceman was found at the end of a warm summer in the Alps. Usually the Alps are covered in snow, even in summer, but it had been an especially warm year and a great deal of the snow and ice had melted.


Temperatures, therefore, must have been above freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit or above) for a number of weeks in order for him to have been exposed. The Iceman died approximately 5200 years ago. At death, he was between 40 and 50 years old and suffered from a number of medical conditions. He turned into a mummy accidentally, almost immediately by the freezing weather conditions that turned him into the Iceman.     



Scientists believe that Ötzi was caught in a heavy snowfall, fell asleep, and froze to death. They concluded this because there were no signs of predator attacks. Experts believe that the body must have been covered with snow almost immediately. 


The first clues as to how old the Iceman was came from many of the tools and objects found with him. The stone ax and stone knife found with him were similar to other stone tools found elsewhere, and which are thousands of years old.


Ötzi's ax was made of copper which provided archaeologists with the best clue in determining the age of Otzi's body. The Iceman and his big copper ax were more than 5,000 years old!


Archaeologists can guess what Otzi may have looked like from the shape of his skull, his teeth and jawline, the color of his hair which survives and any other remaining features. The way archaeologists are able to recreate the likenesses of ancient people from their remains is called forensic archaeology. Forensic archaeology is based on methods used by policemen when they need to identify murder victims.


Judging from the remains of his body and the size and strength of his bones, the Iceman was approximately 5 feet 2 inches tall - about the size of most sixth graders, in fact! 

Otzi had with him over 70 items. They include: A cape of woven grass; a bearskin cap; a goat-hide coat; leather leggings and loincloth; shoes with bearskin soles and deerskin uppers, filled with grass; an unfinished longbow, and a deerskin quiver containing 14 arrows (only two of which were finished); a backpack frame of hazel and larchwood; a copper axe with a wooden haft and leather bindings; a dagger with a flint blade and an ashwood shaft in a woven grass sheath; and some containers of sewn birchbark.

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