The Iceman’s high-drama last days

Otzi, the mummy found frozen in the Tirolean alps, continues to reveal new and exciting things about how he lived and died. The latest research suggests that he was cut in a fight a few days before he died, and that he might have fought his assassins like a badger before he died.

A fresh examination on the Iceman’s body shows a hand injury that ”may have been the result of a brawl,” says the study by Munich’s Ludwig Maximilian University and Italy’s Oetzi experts.

The researchers also took another look at the arrows found with the Iceman’s body and saw that they hadn’t been sharpened properly, ”a likely sign that he had to leave his village in a hurry and was unable to defend himself”.

After he climbed up to the 3,200m spot where his frozen and mummified body was found, they said, he received a mortal arrow shot in the back before being hit ”with a blunt object, probably a rock or a stick”.

The final blow left a bruise which has only now been found not far from the arrow wound, they said.

It seems he died quickly after the arrow hit an artery, so the previous theory that he was shot in the valley and then fled up the glacier is no longer the likeliest scenario.

One possibility is that he was a tribal chieftain set upon by multiple assassins.

Evidence indicates that he flailed around in his death throes and even managed to wound his assailants, Austrian scientists have claimed.

After the ambush, the conspirators left his distinctive weapons with his body so that they would not be found out when they returned to the Iceman’s home village.

There might have been a ritual component to his death, or he may have been banished for having a low sperm count. That last one seems a tad contrived to me, like they found his swimmers lacking and thought of a way that could be linked to his death.

Anyway, it’s neat that they keep finding new pieces of the puzzle even after studying him so closely for almost 20 years.


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Comment by Erin
2009-02-01 07:34:14

“…so they would not be found out when they returned to the Iceman’s village”?? What, his stuff was *that* distinctive? Wouldn’t someone be more likely to have asked “hey, what happened to that other guy you went up into the hills with?” than “hey, that copper axe head looks suspiciously like the one carried by Utzi when he left here last week!”

As for low sperm count… well, we all know how being unable to reproduce has ALWAYS been blamed on the man with low sperm… No, it isn’t? Well color me embarrassed!

Nah, I’ll tell you how it was. Utzi was totally shtupping the chieftain’s wife. Caught *in flagrante delicto* he managed to fight off the rather upset chief long enough to grab his gear and head for the hills. The chief and his band of sworn brothers gave chase, caught and killed the misfortunate Utzi and left him and his stuff because all they were after was their chief’s honor, which they regained.

If this archaeology thing doesn’t work out, I may take up writing bad historical novels.

Comment by livius drusus
2009-02-02 08:34:52

As for low sperm count… well, we all know how being unable to reproduce has ALWAYS been blamed on the man with low sperm… No, it isn’t? Well color me embarrassed!

:giggle: Ya rly. I hadn’t even thought of that — I blame v1@gr@ spam — but of course they would have shunned the barren wombs rather than blamed low sperm count.

I think your idea makes as much or more sense than any of the others. Clearly, you have at least one roman a clef in you. Write! Write! Write!

Comment by Clutch
2009-02-05 08:06:57

The low sperm thing is really dodgy, I agree. The weapons point is a fair one, though, on the assumption that weapons were valuable, hard to make, etc. Why just leave them there?

Comment by livius drusus
2009-02-05 08:59:56

I’m not even sure how the researchers know the weapons are distinctive. I don’t think we have tons of material surviving from the period, hence the amazingness of Otzi.

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Comment by Clutch
2009-02-05 17:26:19

General theoretical grounds? I’m thinking something like this: weapons would be handmade, and not in a very mass-produced way; so there would be distinguishing features about them — at a minimum, sufficient for the owner to recognize his own! — and in smallish populations in which weapons were relatively specialized and prized objects, and there’s not a whole lot to do except compare hatchets by the time February rolled around each year and all the dried berries were eaten and every fart joke had been told a dozen times that winter, everyone else would therefore be able to recognize them easily, too.

Where I grew up, I could recognize practically everyone’s car or (usually) truck at a glance — that’s a population of a few hundred. Would handmade weapons be less distinctive than Detroit half-tons?

Anyhow, I’m more confident that some explanation is called for than that the explanation they offer is the right one. But I also don’t think it’s particularly implausible.

Comment by livius drusus
2009-02-06 08:31:26

That makes sense. Especially the bit about fart jokes. :hattip:

Comment by keiondre clark
2012-02-15 14:49:17

:cool: i have to say this here this ice man is the most awsome thing i ever research and i want to say this thank you all for putting out pointer and example on this topic and i hope we can found out other histroical this

Comment by Clutch Kits
2015-11-25 13:39:36

thanks for sharing such an wonderful post.

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