Skip to comments.Italy's 5,000-Year-Old Iceman Put Up a Fight [DNA of 4 foes, venison and ibex his final meal]
Posted on 08/14/2003 6:39:27 PM PDT by SJackson
ROME (Reuters) - A prehistoric Italian iceman nicknamed "Otzi" may have been shot in the back with an arrow, but he only died after prolonged combat with his foes, new DNA evidence has shown.
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The 5,000-year-old corpse, dug out of a glacier in northern Italy more than a decade ago, had traces of blood from four different people on his clothes and weapons, molecular archeologist Tom Loy said Wednesday.
He also had "defensive cut wounds" on his hands, wrists and rib cage, Loy said after recent blood and DNA tests. Loy, a senior lecturer at Queensland University in Brisbane, traveled to the northern Italian town of Bolzano for the research.
"Presumably he was in a combat situation for between 24 to 48 hours before he died," Loy said in a telephone interview.
"I think one of the things we could advance is that he shot at least two different people and retrieved his arrow, but then he shot at something else and missed, shattering his arrow."
Loy took initial blood samples from Otzi's arrows, knife and coat in July. Amplifying and sequencing the samples, he concluded they belonged to four different people -- not including Otzi himself.
"The plot thickens a bit now," Loy said. "Rather than a simple murder ... it looks like he may have put himself in a boundary situation where bloody battles often occur."
Otzi, the oldest mummy ever unearthed, was found in the Italian Alps in 1991. Scientists were thrilled to find he had remained frozen, and almost perfectly preserved, for thousands of years.
He wore clothing made from leather and grasses and carried a copper axe, a bow and arrows. Speculation immediately began about who he was and why he died where he did, but it was hard to do too much checking without damaging his body.
Later, an arrowhead was found in his left shoulder, suggesting Otzi did not simply freeze to death while climbing the high mountains, but was shot by a fellow hunter.
After studying the corpse's intestines, Italian researcher Franco Rollo concluded last year that the iceman's final meals consisted of venison and ibex meat.
The latest research gives scientists a glimpse of what the stone age hunter's last, bloody hours must have been like.
Loy said the tools that Otzi was carrying suggest he was a specialist hunter who often worked above the tree line in high passes that were often boundary areas between different, hostile language groups.
He said the blood found on the back of Otzi's coat could have come from a wounded companion that he was carrying, but that the arrows and knife blade suggest that he was also fighting off at least two foes.
Yes, it would. I don't think it's going to happen though.
That said, the find and its study are fascinating. Anyone interested in details go to www.iceman.it. After selecting English scroll to the right for pictures and descriptions of all the clothes and equipment.
His real name was Prizzi
I agree, the Splendid Splinter deserves his dignity.
Ohhh, you mean the Mummy...
If, 10K years after I die, someone digs up the meat that I used to wear, more power to them. It won't be me- I will be resting peacefully, (or not, if it turns out the muslims are correct) and what they do with my body interests me about as much as what they do with my shoes.
I don't think this is a matter of disrespect but normal human curiosity of where did we come from, how did we make it this far.
regardless, I won't really care, and I wouldn't call it "defilement" nor will I worry about "resting in peace" either way. Disturb the dust, muck about with the frozen remnants of my carcass...unless I'm truly mistaken, it won't have anything to do with me at all, any more than ripping out my organs to benefit someone who could use them, using the meat to teach anatomy to doctors who will save lives...or hell, stealing the cadaver, dressing it up in women's lingery, and placing it in the bed of a drunken med student to scare the snot out of him.
I don't care- that's not me. It's my clothes.
Although I do think the whole "playing a joke" thing is somewhat tasteless, and at the very least should not be done until after my family has gone through the memorial service.
Then again some of my family members are so tight assed only bats can hear them fart-maybe it wouldn't be so bad if practical jokes were played w/the meat, if only to sacandalize them, and give them something to "harrump harrump harrump" about.
I don't know. He obviously fought well in his final battle, and it was never known to his people. Maybe it's right that he finally gets some recognition. He was a warrior, a hunter, not a farmer. It's good that he is recognized as such.
I saw the exhibit in April just a few weeks after the war on Iraq began. One has to wear headphones for English narrations of the displays.
I never understood why my Italian friends always said that many northern Italians were blond and blue-eyed and much different than the southern Italians from which much Italian American stock is derived. It turns out that the Austrian Empire once extended down into northern Italy leaving a strong Germanic imprint on the culture there. If you think bilingualism is an American-Spanish problem, go to a northern Italian city or town. Official business has to be said once in Italian and then again in Italian. Each city has two names, Italian and German versions. They do have the worlds best tomatoes.
Yes but I believe the people you speak of were already there. Helvetians.
It's not quite clear to me when Italian arises as a recognized language once Latin died as a spoken language. I read that Italian comes to full fruition in the Renaissance, the 1300 or 1400s. After the fall of Rome, Lombards from Eastern Europe or Asia moved into northern Italy around 600. The Franks make a brief occupation a couple of hundred years later. Finally the Germans arrive, the Holy Roman Empire in the late 900s. They stay for quite awhile until that empire falls apart. The Austrian Empire takes over lasting about 500 years until they fall apart at the end of WWI. Germans or Austrians, whats the difference? They both speak German. I got all this from the Penguin Atlass of History in about five minutes.
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)
This is true! My grandmother on my father's side was from northern Italy, in an area near Parma called Seren di Grappa. Her maiden name was Biondini, which means "little blonde" - and true enough, she and two of her sons have the fair hair/fair skin/blue eyes. My dad's hair was black as coal, but he has the blue eyes as well.
Second time with feeling.