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June 28, 2018

Ötzi's tools

Iceman weapon

From the Daily Mail:


Ötzi the Iceman, Europe's oldest mummy, continues to reveal secrets — including the fact he had recently resharpened some of his tools when he was murdered.

By carefully analyzing the wear traces of the stone implements, researchers concluded Ötzi used his right hand to work on them days before his death.

Despite that, they also appear to have been almost worn out, with little to no future chance of resharpening due to their small size.

That could suggest the hunter gatherer was running low on vital supplies in the critical period before he was killed.

Experts also discovered the presence of stylistic influences from distant alpine cultures, by comparing his 5,300 year old tool kit with others from the period.

This supports previous evidence suggesting that alpine Copper Age communities maintained long-distance trading relationships, scientists say.

A team of scientists, led by Ursula Wierer from the Department of Archaeology, Fine Arts, and Landscape in Florence, Italy, analyzed his chert stone tools to learn more about his life and the events that led to his death.

The team used high-power microscopes and computed tomography (CT) scans to examine his tool kit — which included a dagger, borer, flake, antler retoucher, and arrowheads — in microscopic detail.


Two of the implements — an oval-shaped end scraper used for cutting plants or working animal hides, and a tool used for making holes in wood — had been recently worked on.

The structure of the tools' also revealed that the stone was collected from several different outcrops in what is now the Trentino region of Italy.

Originally discovered in a glacier in the South Tyrol region of Italy, researchers found Ötzi ventured about 45 miles (70km) away from home to gather stone for his tools.

Speaking to MailOnline, Dr. Wierer said: 'What we do is to examine tools from the past and reconstruct their life cycle in detail, from their production to their utilization until they were finally discarded.

'In this way we are able to determine many features of the lifestyle of prehistoric people.

'In Ötzi’s case we were dealing with the tool kit of a specific person, about whom we already knew a great deal. This made the research all the more exciting.

'Through analysing the Iceman's tool kit from different viewpoints and reconstructing the entire life cycle of each instrument, we were able to gain insights into Ötzi's cultural background, his individual history, and his last hectic days.'


Despite his regular maintenance of his tool kit, his knife was found to be well worn and his arrowheads were broken, with no supplies to replace them.

'Most tools, though still functioning, had arrived to their last phase of utilization,' Dr. Wierer told New Scientist, and were 'very small, with hardly any further possibility of resharpening.'

The Tyrolean Iceman, better known as Ötzi, is the mummified body of a 46-year-old man found with his clothes and personal belongings

Previous research showed that Ötzi lived during the Copper Age, between 3370 to 3100 B.C.E., and was probably killed by an arrow.

Researchers examining the contents of his stomach worked out that his final meal consisted of venison and ibex meat.

Archaeologists believe Ötzi, who was carrying a bow, a quiver of arrows, and a copper axe, may have been a hunter or warrior killed in a skirmish with a rival tribe.

Experts say he was about 5 ft 2.5 inches (159cm) tall, 46 years old, arthritic, and infested with whipworm — an intestinal parasite.

The full findings of the new study were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Since his discovery on December 19, 1991 by German hikers, Ötzi has provided a window into early human history.

His mummified remains were uncovered in melting glacier in the mountainous border between Austria and Italy.

Analysis of the body has told us that he was alive during the Copper Age and died a grisly death.

Ötzi had brown eyes, relatives in Sardinia, and was lactose intolerant.

He was also predisposed to heart disease.

Recent research focused on the DNA in the nuclei of Ötzi's cells, and it could yield further insights into the famous ice mummy's life.

His perfectly preserved body is stored in his own specially designed cold storage chamber at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Italy at a constant temperature of 21°F (-6°C).

Visitors can view the mummy through a small window.

Alongside his remains is an Ötzi model created using 3D images of the corpse and forensic technology by two Dutch artists, Alfons and Adrie Kennis.


June 28, 2018 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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