Skip to comments.Iceman's bones lead scientists to his home turf
Posted on 10/31/2003 9:30:13 AM PST by inPhase
Iceman's bones lead scientists to his home turf
By Lucy Beaumont November 1, 2003 Printer friendly version Print this article Email to a friend Email to a friend
The Iceman lived and died in a small area of northern Italy, scientists have deduced from analysis of his tooth enamel and bone samples.
The home turf of a man who died 5200 years ago has been located by a team of scientists, including Australians, who analysed his teeth, bones and intestines.
Examination of the famed "Iceman", whose frozen remains were found in a glacier on the Italian-Austrian border in 1991, has provided insight into European settlement during the Neolithic period.
Geologists from the Australian National University, Curtin University, Colorado and Zurich compared chemicals from the Iceman with those in earth, rocks and water from the area where the mummified corpse was found. Their findings were published in journal Science today. "By pinning down the origins of the Iceman, we can conclusively say that he died in his local area . . . the valleys on what is now the South Tyrol-Alto Adige region in northern Italy," said ANU lead researcher Wolfgang Muller.
Dr Muller began the research three years ago while at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.
The research suggests that the valleys in the area were permanently inhabited during the Neolithic - or New Stone Age - period.
Two years ago, the Iceman's cause of death was revealed to be an arrow shot into his left shoulder. His body, along with an axe, necklace, bow and arrows, was found by two German mountaineers.
Earlier research revealed what the Iceman ate, his age (46), some of his DNA and his health.
"This provides fresh insight into part of the history of humanity," Dr Muller said. "It is one of the last big secrets of the Iceman we can expect to unlock."
The Iceman's tooth enamel provided scientists with clues to his early childhood, while the minerals found in his bones were reflective of the last decade or so of his life. The plant contents of his intestine, preserved by his icy grave, revealed his activities during his last days.
Comparisons between teeth and bones showed that the Iceman migrated between the alpine valleys during his lifetime. But he never strayed too far from his birthplace, staying within a 60-kilometre range south-east of where he was found.
Because the oxygen composition of rainwater varies depending on how far inland it falls to earth, geologists deduced that the Iceman lived south of the Alps for his entire life, Dr Muller said. Printer friendly version Print this article Email to a friend
The fossilized calzones they found there were dead give-aways.
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