The Iceman Murder

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In 1991, two hikers found a frozen body high in the Italian Alps. They thought it was a body of a recent hiker but it turned out to be a 5300 year old ice mummy. The people called him Otzi the Iceman after the Otzal area where he was found. The body was taken to Austria where scientists worked on him. Many people helped investigate this mystery such as scientists, archaeologists, pathologists, forensic scientists, palaeobotanists, and metallurgists. They worked together to investigate this unique case. From the evidence, scientists have suggested three theories why and how Otzi died. The first theory says that Otzi died as a lonely shepherd.

This is because he died near an ancient shepherding route. There was grass in his shoes and it was worn out due to long distance travelling. An examination of the contents of Otzi’s intestine found hop hornbeam pollen. This could only mean that it had been consumed very soon after the flowering of the plant just before the Iceman died. And since the hop hornbeam only flowers between March and June he must have actually died in spring. There is lot of charcoal in his pocket, which shows that he was planning his route up the mountains for the sheep or cattle to graze on the grass up there.

He made it to the top but he was exhausted; the altitude and weather conditions are hazardous to him because he was an elderly man. When he went up the mountain he could have been caught in a freak storm. There are 57 tattoos on his body which, according to researchers, nearly match the Chinese modern acupuncture points used to treat the symptoms of various maladies. Analysis showed that the Iceman suffered from osteoarthrosis, intestinal parasites and arthritis and because of this, he might have been in pain and died. He lay down to rest in a gully where he died of hypothermal and was buried in ice.

Scientists found out that the dung pellets were not made by sheep or cattle but by ibex and chamois. This means that Otzi died as misadventure. The second theory suggests that Otzi could have been a metal smith or a trader because of his copper axe and his tools. Copper is scarce in those areas, so he might have been a traveller going from tribe to tribe. As an outsider, suspicion will be high because trade was important. Anything someone wanted to have had a value to be exchange. Communication skills were just an important as out today. The artefacts Otzi courage showed him as a special but this may bring fear for the villagers.

They would blame outsiders if anything strange or bad happen. However, they needed Otzi to transform metal into artefacts and heal the sick people with his medicine. If he fails to do anything, the people see him as a traitor. When the archaeologists investigated, they found out that Otzi only fitted 2 arrows out of 14 arrows. This meant that Otzi had done something wrong, knew that he was in danger and was fleeing into the mountains without proper protection. Someone must have seen him running away and shot Otzi in the back and ran away. Otzi tried to pull the arrows out of his back but it was too far to reach.

The only way to do this is to change the direction of the arrow. Otzi succeeded but it was very painful and he had a big blood loss. After being shot, Otzi stumbled up the mountains in about 20 minutes. Then he died of hypothermal. This means that he was murdered for causing a problem and forcing him to his death. Scientists examined the arrow head in Otzi’s back and found out that it was an arrowhead of the southern tribes. The third theory suggests that Otzi died a as warrior trying to save his village. The traces in his teeth and hair shows he might have been a local warrior in the southern area.

He had a copper axe which meant that he had a high status. There was a deep cut in his right hand that cut down through his flesh and bone. It wasn’t an accidental cut; it was a defensive act trying to stop a blow from a sword or other weapons. This is because of the territory expansion of tribes. The rival tribe moved through the Alps to try and take Otzi’s land. Intensifying conflict as copper isn’t found everywhere. If you wanted something, you had to trade it of take the thing you wanted by force. Otzi and his villagers had a war against the rival village.

There is evidence that it was a very violent battle because there were four different types of human blood on him. One type was on his coat, two different types on only one arrow which meant he didn’t have enough arrows and pulled the arrow out of his first victim and used it again. Another type of human blood was on his flint knife. Otzi tried to save his village but he failed. The only way for him is going through the mountains. He knew it was uncertain that he will cross it alive but it was the only route he could go. Otzi was a tough warrior but he was 46 years old, which was pretty old in his time.

He was wounded in the right hand, an arrow head in his back, he was exhausted by the battle, there was less oxygen in the air and he had arthritis. All these factors together can stop a mighty warrior. Scientists find the discovery important because it gives them an idea of what life was like in this region 5,300 years ago. Not all scientists agree with the theories, however. Some say that the Iceman may have been killed in a ritual sacrifice. Today Otzi the Iceman can be found at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy. He is kept in a chamber with humidity of 99%.

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