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DNA reveals how the Italian Iceman went down fighting
The Independent (U.K.) ^ | 08/13/03 | Peter Popham

Posted on 08/12/2003 1:49:37 PM PDT by Pokey78

Italy's prehistoric Iceman was murdered by an arrow in the back, despite the efforts of a companion to save him. But although he apparently died fleeing from a skirmish, he did not give up without a fight. He bore traces of the blood of four other men on his weapons and clothes, three of whom he had killed or wounded.

These are among the startling findings of Dr Tom Loy of Queensland University in Brisbane, Australia, published this week after analysis of blood traces found on the 5,300-year- old mummy, which was dug out of the Alpine ice 12 years ago.

Dr Loy, studying northern Italy's famous mummy for the first time in 10 years, said yesterday: "There is DNA from the blood of four different individuals on the equipment he is carrying: one from the back of his cloak, one from his knife blade and two others on his arrowheads."

By far the oldest mummy unearthed - those of ancient Egypt are 1,000 years younger - Ötzi, as he is known, was discovered by a couple climbing in the high peaks of Italy's South Tyrol region, near the Austrian border. He has yielded a huge amount of information about the life of man in the Alps during the Copper Age. Not only his body but his clothing, weapons, crude medical kit and other equipment were all intact.

Ötzi wore a goatskin loincloth, leather leggings, a goatskin coat and a cloak of grass stitched together with animal sinews. On his head he wore a bearskin cap and on his feet shoes of leather, stuffed with grass to keep his feet warm. On the downside he had three broken ribs, dysentery, a nasty cut on his hand, and fleas. Critically, Ötzi also had a flint arrowhead embedded in his back.

Until two years ago it was believed that Ötzi froze to death in a snowstorm. But in 2001, close examination of X-rays of the corpse revealed that a flint-headed arrow had torn through his shoulder blade, stopping an inch from his left lung. The arrowhead remained there, causing a wound that, left untreated, would have resulted in his death.

The new analysis by Dr Loy of blood traces found on the blade of Ötzi's dagger, on an arrowhead and a broken arrow shaft in his birch-bark quiver and at four places on his leather coat reveal mitochondrial DNA on each. Each sample is different, indicating conclusively that Ötzi carried traces of the blood of four different people.

Dr Loy said: "We spent a lot of time trying to work out reasonable alternative explanations [for the presence of the blood of others]. The idea we came up with most of the time was border skirmishing. Our theory was that he had been in a skirmish and was trying to get home."

The picture we are left with is of Ötzi, having made it to the icy heights of the Schnalstal glacier with his companion - and with the remains of meals of venison and ibex still in his gut - running into trouble. He attacked his adversaries with his flint-bladed dagger (still clasped in his hand when he was found in 1991), but received a nasty wound to the same hand, which immobilised two fingers.

He and his friend beat a retreat but Ötzi took a fatal hit in the back. The friend attempted to pull out the arrow but snapped it at the haft, and Ötzi died in the snow of his injury.

But what of the friend? What of the assailants? The South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology - Ötzi's final resting place - is organising an expedition into the high passes to look for more remains at the end of the month. With the heatwave melting ancient icefields never before exposed, the chances of climbers stumbling on another sensational discovery have never been better.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: ancientautopsies; archaeology; dietandcuisine; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; helixmakemineadouble; history; iceman; oetzi; otzi; theiceman

1 posted on 08/12/2003 1:49:37 PM PDT by Pokey78
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To: msdrby
ping
2 posted on 08/12/2003 1:57:19 PM PDT by Prof Engineer (I won't FReep at work, I won't FReep at work, I won't FReep at work, I won't FReep at work)
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To: Pokey78

3 posted on 08/12/2003 1:57:54 PM PDT by bedolido (None of us is as dumb as all of us!)
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To: Pokey78
What did him in was the lipstick on his collar.
4 posted on 08/12/2003 2:01:21 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Prof Engineer
Very interesting...But really have to sit with those dudes and toss it around a bit more. It sounds like he should have been blood soaked but deer hunters know that many deer live through the ordeal of an arrow.

I'm sure there are many, many possible scenarios. They make him sound like a GOOD guy. Maybe he was the bad guy in the middle of a robbery???

5 posted on 08/12/2003 2:08:01 PM PDT by Sacajaweau (God Bless Our Troops!!)
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To: Dark Wing
ping
6 posted on 08/12/2003 2:09:03 PM PDT by Thud
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To: Thud
Who was he fighting? Helen Thomas?


7 posted on 08/12/2003 2:13:39 PM PDT by Callahan
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To: blam
ping
8 posted on 08/12/2003 2:15:33 PM PDT by sarcasm (Tancredo 2004)
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To: Sacajaweau
I'm inclined to think that far back in our very ancient history, there was no GOOD and BAD as we know it - there was just SURVIVAL.
9 posted on 08/12/2003 2:20:20 PM PDT by navydad
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To: navydad
Isn't it amazing what they can determine from 5,000 year old bones;"....His wife was a blond, who had problems with the other dark haired women in the tribe and, on this day, had stayed home to milk dinasaurs with the children and......blah, blah, blah."
What happened to Stacey and her unborn baby? "Duh! We have no idea."
10 posted on 08/12/2003 2:31:21 PM PDT by Winfield
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To: Sacajaweau
They make him sound like a GOOD guy.

He had good shoes. Bad guys have sometimes expensive, but always bad, shoes.

11 posted on 08/12/2003 2:38:09 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Law of the Excluded Middle)
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To: Winfield
The determination to make him a "good guy" cannot be suppressed. Who knows what evil led to this man's death.

Ah, imagination!!!!!

12 posted on 08/12/2003 2:39:46 PM PDT by Sacajaweau (God Bless Our Troops!!)
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To: Sacajaweau
The fact that he was shot in the back indicates he was murdered by primitive members of the Rodham-Clinton tribe which terrorized the Tyrol six millenia ago.
13 posted on 08/12/2003 2:42:08 PM PDT by speedy
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To: RightWhale
The bad guys around here have GOOD shoes and a Cadillac!
14 posted on 08/12/2003 2:42:15 PM PDT by Sacajaweau (God Bless Our Troops!!)
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To: Sacajaweau

The perp...

15 posted on 08/12/2003 2:46:32 PM PDT by mewzilla
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To: Sacajaweau
On Earth, you mean. ;^)
16 posted on 08/12/2003 2:47:10 PM PDT by headsonpikes
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To: Pokey78
On the downside he had three broken ribs, dysentery, a nasty cut on his hand, and fleas.

Most women do find that unappealing, for some reason.

17 posted on 08/12/2003 2:48:56 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: Sacajaweau
The bad guys around here have GOOD shoes

Expensive, probably comfortable, perhaps stylish, definitely imported. Bad.

18 posted on 08/12/2003 2:53:47 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Law of the Excluded Middle)
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To: RightWhale

The plaque for the alternates is down in the ladies room.

19 posted on 08/12/2003 3:25:20 PM PDT by presidio9 (RUN AL, RUN!!!)
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To: Pokey78
'Iceman' Was Murdered, Say Science Sleuth
20 posted on 08/12/2003 3:40:06 PM PDT by blam
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To: presidio9
Really don't know what to think with that busted link.
21 posted on 08/12/2003 3:40:23 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Law of the Excluded Middle)
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To: RightWhale
It contains a picture of the Iceman:


http://www.geocities.com/goose_topgun2k/mavandice.jpg
22 posted on 08/12/2003 3:44:16 PM PDT by presidio9 (RUN AL, RUN!!!)
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To: presidio9
We're sorry, but this page is currently unavailable for viewing.

hmmm. Maybe a momentary mega-hit site.

23 posted on 08/12/2003 3:47:28 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Law of the Excluded Middle)
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To: RightWhale
Really? Not only is the picture visible on the thread for me, but the link works too (I just tried it again). Weird.


It was a corny joke anyway.
24 posted on 08/12/2003 3:50:19 PM PDT by presidio9 (RUN AL, RUN!!!)
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To: Sacajaweau
Maybe he was the bad guy in the middle of a robbery???

More likely rape, looting and pillaging the neighbors, who took offense and shot him as ran. But we'll never know.

25 posted on 08/12/2003 6:45:02 PM PDT by El Gato
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To: Sacajaweau
Maybe he was the bad guy in the middle of a robbery???

More likely rape, looting and pillaging the neighbors, who took offense and shot him as ran. But we'll never know.

26 posted on 08/12/2003 6:45:03 PM PDT by El Gato
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To: Pokey78
"Italian" Iceman - South Tyrolians won't like to hear that. Oetzi and Schnalstal don't sound very Italian after all...
27 posted on 08/13/2003 4:27:06 AM PDT by stck
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Just adding this to the GGG catalog, not sending a general distribution.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest
-- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

28 posted on 06/15/2005 9:36:38 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (FR profiled updated Tuesday, May 10, 2005. Fewer graphics, faster loading.)
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