Does everyone remember Otzi the Iceman? The little frozen mummy they found in the Alps, back in the early Nineties? Of course you do. How could you forget something like that?
Otzi, at about 5300 years old, bears the distinction of being one of the oldest natural mummies in the world. Also, a five feet, five inches, and eighty-four pounds, he is one of the smallest people I am afraid of. And not just because he’s dead.
New research has finally put to rest (as it were) the question of Otzi’a death. It turns out that Otzi died as he lived: on a mountain, and totally hardcore. I will now list the evidence for this conclusion, in order of increasing bad-assness.
1) Otzi dressed all in leather. His cloak was made of woven grass, but his belt, vest, leggings, loincloth, and shoes were all leather. We know that’s what tough people wear.
2) Otzi wore a bearskin hat. I would never mess with anyone in a bearskin hat. Bears don’t give up their skin easily.
3) Otzi carried around a prehistoric medicine kit. Maybe this isn’t that hardcore, but it seems like a good idea. He had a string of two kinds of polypore mushrooms, which have antibacterial properties. Way to think ahead, Otzi!
4) Otzi had 57 tattoos. No elaboration needed.
5) Otzi carried an axe, a knife, a quiver of bone-tipped arrows, and a longbow. For comparison, I usually carry around my house keys, and sometimes a pen. John Rambo and Otzi probably shopped at the same stores, come to think of it.
5) The blood of four non-Otzi people was found on Otzi’s cloak. Whoa! After DNA analysis revealed this, some people began to speculate that Otzi may have been part of a raiding party. After baby showers, these are the roughest, toughest kind of parties around.
6) A recently constructed 3D model of Otzi’s body shows that he died of blood loss after getting shot with an arrow under his left collar bone. Previous examinations had revealed a wound beneath a matching tear in Otzi’s (leather) vest, inside of which was lodged an arrowhead, but the new CT scans clearly show that the arrow had torn an artery, which would have caused severe bleeding, shock, and eventually death by heart attack. A large haematoma, or a collection of blood from internal bleeding, was also revealed, which might suggest that the arrow was pulled out of the wound, shortly before death. The chances of surviving this sort of wound, even today, would be around 40%.
Wow. My hat goes off to you, little iceman.
There have been some cool shows about the iceman, but even wikipedia’s article is pretty interesting.
And here’s an article about the recent research on Otzi’s body.