German History: The Discovery Of Otzi, "The Iceman"

1575 words - 6 pages

Perhaps the most remarkable discovery of the latter 20th century was that of the iceman, Ötzi. His discovery changed the view of prehistoric life, and gave reason for scientists to rethink the dates of Bronze Age. It is not only remarkable that his body survived for over 5,000 years, but also that his tools and clothing were in such excellent shape. Scientists now know many details about the man known as Ötzi. They know what region he was from, what his diet consisted of, how he died, and many other details.Ötzi was discovered in a very well preserved state in the Ötzal Alps, on the border of Austria and Italy in the autonomous province of South Tyrol. Due to warm weather, the frozen body was exposed and discovered by two German tourists on September 19, 1991. It was assumed that the body was that of a recently deceased hiker because the body was so well preserved. The body was left for a few more days and was exhumed by Alpine Rescue workers who damaged it in the process. While the body was defrosting, it became apparent that he was not a modern hiker (Grossruck, "Body"). After being examined, measured, x-rayed, and dated, it was discovered that he had died between 5,100 and 5,350 years ago, at the age of 40 to 45 (Spindler).In July of 2001, the iceman's death was officially solved after many hypotheses had been proposed for his cause of death. At the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy, a sophisticated x-ray technique called computerized tomography revealed a small arrowhead lodged in the iceman's left shoulder. It is likely that he was killed in battle, because of the numerous weapons in his possession. The arrow did not hit any major organs, so it is likely that he bled profusely and died in much pain ("Iceman Death Mystery Solved"). Previous thoughts were that he was a shepherd who took his flock high into the Alps, and that he died in the process of descending the mountain (Dickson). It was also believed that he was fleeing enemies who had driven him from his farming settlement. They were probably responsible for Ötzi's broken ribs. At some point, he laid down in a rocky gully, where he died (Spindler). It is possible that this hypothesis is true, and his pursuers shot him with an arrow, causing his death.It was surprising when scientists found 47 clear marking on Ötzi's skin that were tattoos. The tattoos were located on typical acupuncture points for treating back and leg pain. Further investigation showed evidence of osteoarthrosis in Ötzi that may have been treated with acupuncture. It was believed that acupuncture originated in China sometime between 1,000 BCE and the beginning of the Common Era. Because of this discovery on Ötzi, some scientists now believe that acupuncture was practiced in Europe 5,300 years ago. It is probable that some form of acupuncture developed concurrently in various cultures, showing that prehistoric peoples may have had a deep understanding of the body...

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