Ötzi the Iceman Might Not Have Died Alone

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Researchers have been taking a new look into the evidence surrounding the death of Ötzi the Iceman, discovered by hikers in 1991 and still the oldest natural mummy to have been found in Europe.  General consensus has it that, judging by the inhospitable location of his body and the stone arrowhead embedded in his shoulder, Ötzi was murdered and his body left to the elements.

A new interpretation, posed by Alessandro Vanzetti and his colleagues, states that Ötzi was actually up on the mountain because he was taken there for his funeral.

The research:

raises the possibility that he perished near kin living at low altitudes, who took him to the mountains for a final send-off as soon as the weather permitted.

Ötzi originally was placed on a group of stones that formed a platform about 20 feet uphill from the spot where hikers found him splayed in a gully… Snow and ice that originally held the body in place partly thawed during occasional warm periods, creating a watery mix that swept the Iceman and some of his effects, including a wooden bow and copper ax, off the platform, the scientists propose.

The body then gradually rolled downhill. Lodged against a boulder in the gully, Ötzi’s left arm twisted across his body at an odd angle, they assert.

Other archeologists agree with the theory that the body moved with thaws, but say that there’s no evidence that the stones were meant to be part of a funereal rite.

We’d like to think so, though.  It’s much preferable to imagine the poor guy as someone who had people to care for him, rather than some guy who was shot in the back and left for dead up a mountain.  If only because we’re grateful for the insights he’s allowed us to glean about European culture of five thousand years ago.

Read the full article at Wired.

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Susana Polo
Susana Polo thought she'd get her Creative Writing degree from Oberlin, work a crap job, and fake it until she made it into comics. Instead she stumbled into a great job: founding and running this very website (she's Editor at Large now, very fancy). She's spoken at events like Geek Girl Con, New York Comic Con, and Comic Book City Con, wants to get a Batwoman tattoo and write a graphic novel, and one of her canine teeth is in backwards.