19 September 1991

Ötzi the Iceman is discovered in the Alps on the border between Italy and Austria.

Ötzi the Iceman, also known as the Similaun Man, is the nickname given to one of the most well-preserved ancient human mummies ever discovered. Ötzi’s remains were found in the Ötztal Alps on the border between Austria and Italy in September 1991. His discovery has provided valuable insights into the life of a Copper Age individual who lived around 3,300 BCE, making him approximately 5,300 years old.

Discovery: Ötzi’s mummified remains were discovered by two German hikers, Helmut and Erika Simon, in the Schnalstal/Val Senales Valley in the Italian Alps. The mummy was found at an altitude of approximately 3,210 meters (10,530 feet) above sea level.

Preservation: Ötzi’s remarkable preservation is due to the fact that he was buried in ice shortly after his death, which prevented his body from decomposing. His body was naturally mummified over millennia, aided by the cold and dry conditions of the glacier.

Age and Origin: Ötzi lived during the Copper Age, and radiocarbon dating estimates his age at the time of death to be around 45 years old. His origins have been traced to the region of the South Tyrol, which is now part of Italy but was likely inhabited by a culture of people who spoke a pre-Indo-European language.

Appearance: Ötzi stood approximately 5 feet 2 inches (160 cm) tall and had a wiry build. He had brown hair and a beard, and his clothing was made of animal skins and plant materials. His shoes were constructed from tree bark and grass, and he wore a coat and a cloak made from animal hides.

Tattoos: Ötzi had numerous tattoos on his body, consisting of simple geometric designs and lines. These tattoos are thought to have had a therapeutic or symbolic purpose and provide insight into the medical and cultural practices of his time.

Diet: Analysis of Ötzi’s stomach contents and the remains of his last meal revealed that he had consumed a meal of ibex meat and various plant materials shortly before his death. This suggests that he was likely a hunter and gatherer.

Cause of Death: Ötzi’s cause of death has been the subject of extensive research. Examination of his body revealed an arrowhead lodged in his shoulder, suggesting that he may have been shot by an arrow. Additionally, he had head injuries consistent with blunt force trauma. It is now believed that Ötzi likely died from a combination of these injuries, although the exact circumstances leading to his death remain a topic of debate.

Scientific Insights: Ötzi’s discovery has provided valuable information about ancient human life, including aspects of his diet, clothing, tools, and medical practices. It has also shed light on the genetic history of European populations and has led to advancements in various scientific fields, such as archaeology, anthropology, and forensics.

Museum Display: Ötzi’s mummy and associated artifacts are on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy. The museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the life and times of this ancient individual.