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The mistery of Otzi

of Silvia Sorvillo*

*Translation, with all the fault inclused of course, from italian Vittorio Sossi

The shepherd seem to be died approximately 5,300 years ago, today the clinical check up in order to discover like He lived, was nourished and of what he was taken care

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26 september 2000

Is a patient very original indeed that past monday has been analyzed from a team of scientists of various specializations. To undergo diligently to the extraction of biological samples, in fact, has been no less than the oldest mummy of the world: Otzi, the man of Similaun.

Update: the last combat of Otzi

Skillful hunter and warrior this could be the professional qualification of Otzi. According to some reconstructions made a pair of years ago, the man of Similaun would be died on the mountains where it has been found after to have fought one bloody fight with other men. Immediately after this kind of primitive duel the future mummy would have tried to seek shelter on the small glade situated to the top of the mountains that he knew so much well and that were not a lot away from the village in which probably he lived.

The scientists suspect that more persons were been involved in the skirmish, quite four enemies perhaps. Many in fact are the blood groups of various phenotype found on the naked steel of the shepherd. The reconstructions, made also with the aid of the alpine guide who was present at the moment of the discovery, indicate to us that Otzi was armed for sure. Beyond to the lance and the tip of the broken arrow that it carried with himself, it locked in the right hand a dagger of tough copper, a tool extremely precious for an historic age like that one.

And if, as we know, in the recovery of the body the weapons were all there, near to him, this wants to say that Otzi even if rather in a sorry plight was the undiscussed winner of that combat. During the tests, in fact, the doctors have observed one deep hurt on the left shoulder, due sure to one arrow, one on the forearm and an other, subsequently located by the anatomo-pathologist, deeper between the inch and the index of the right hand.
All these lacerations, like the numerous contusions, confirm one brave and rather bloody fight with one or more adversaries. Otzi has fought and it has been defended himself bravely until the end. Otherwise, if therefore it had not been, the dagger would have been sure carried away from the winner.

In short, the oldest and most famous mummy of the world is a brave prehistoric hero, a chief of a tribe or a bandit of other times? The doubt for now remains and it seems much difficult to resolve.

To say it all, however, unusual has not been the patient only but also the used procedure in order to prepare it for the clinical analysis. Otzi the mummy in fact, instead of being tranquilized and being settled on the litter, has been warmed up to a temperature of 2 centigrade degrees over to that one he has been accustomed (only 21,2 Fareneith degrees, that is under the zero centigrade), for twenty-four hours, the time necessary to enable the sampling of bones, skin and viscera. The scientists assert that Otzi, approximately 5300 years ago, pastured sheep on the Otzalet Alps to the border Italian-Austrian. In one of its turns, while a blizzard was raging, probably for natural causes or perhaps later on to one bad fallen, he is died.

10,000 feet of altitude, the snows and the ice of the Alps have conserved his mortal remains until today

Bad weather and the particular climatic conditions in which the body of the shepherd was come to find have favorite the mummification process. Buried under a thick layer of snow and ice, to 10,000 feet over the sea level, the corpse of Otzi has been dehydrated and remained "integral" until our days. Nine years ago, in 1991, two rock-climbers have seen to protrude the shape of its corpse from the top of a glacier. If Otzi has lived truly in these places and which way it is died will be object of the studies, (see the green box to the right side) that a legal doctor of Glasgow, in Scotland, Peter Vanezis will carry ahead. At the same time an Italian group, guided from Franco Rollo of the University of Camerino, will study the Dna of the present microorganisms in the stomach of the ancient Mummy. It can be that also the ancient shepherd with the wrong diet, which he probably was used to follow, did not suffer already from a gastric ulcer?

For whom he wanted to know some more on Otzi, the man of Similaun, information and images are available on the website archeoparc.Here the archaeological museum of 4000 square meters can be visited. The museum illustrates the world of the ancient young Otzi. On line also the informations on the timetable of opening of the museum and how to reach it.

Scienzità has been realized by Silvia Sorvillo and Vittorio Sossi