Reproduction of Oetzi the Similaun Man in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano

In 1991, two German hikers hiked in the Jötztal Alps—a mountain range shared by Austria and Italy— when they ran into each other the frozen remains of a dead man. The ice preserved the man so well that his body, clothes and tools never decomposed.

Scientists named him Yotsi the Iceman and began to study the naturally preserved mummy. They determined that he lived more than 5,000 years ago, making Yotsi the Iceman the oldest mummy ever discovered.

Researchers are still studying the mountain mummy, and Yotsi the Iceman continues to unlock answers about what everyday life was like thousands of years ago.

How old was Ötzi the Iceman?

The hikers who found Yotzi the Iceman immediately contacted the authorities. The Austrian police noticed his grass coat, a garment commonly worn by the natives until the late nineteenth century. They assumed that Yotzi Ledeniya died sometime in the last two centuries.

But when scientists began to study the mummy, they realized that it was much older than originally thought. Ozzie the Iceman lived about 5300 years ago during the Neolithic Copper Age.

IN A 2003 study in science, an international team of scientists revealed how they analyzed its teeth and bones and found that it had lived its entire life in a 60km area in the Alps.

How old was Ice Yotzi when he died?

The scientists sequenced the entire genome of Yotzi the Iceman and published their results in 2012 study in Nature. Ötzi the Iceman probably had brown eyes, was lactose intolerant and prone to coronary heart disease. He had blood type O and it was probably between 40 and 50 years when he died.

How was Ötzi the Iceman’s health?

Scientists now know a lot about his health at the time of his death because his organs were in good condition. Scientists discovered that he had blackened lungs. They believe this may be due to a lifetime of warming up next to an open fire.

In his lifetime, Ice Yotzi suffered eight broken ribs. Several were healed at the time of his death, but others were still healing. He also had a lot health issues. His tooth enamel had decayed and he had gum disease.

He had a parasitic roundworm in his intestines, gallstones and degenerative hip joint disease. The cartilage had worn away in his cervical and lumbar spine, and he had atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque on the walls of his arteries.

How did Ötzi the Iceman die?

Scholars disagree on how Yotzi the Iceman died. He had two fresh wounds on his body and some researchers claim that he was killed. Others believe he was caught in a snowstorm and died of exposure.

Based on an analysis of its stomach contents, researchers do understand how Yotsi Ledenia spent his last days. Before he died, he moved from higher in the Alps to a lower altitude. He returned to the height of the glacier. The area where the hikers found it was once a mountain pass.

Read more: Tollund Man, Otzi the Iceman: what their last meals reveal

Scientists believe Yotzi is the Icemanwas attacked twice when he went up and down the mountains. He had a stab wound to his arm and then, later, a laceration to his collarbone that could have fatally punctured his left subclavian artery.

Who was Yotzi the Iceman in life?

Before Ötzi the Iceman was discovered, researchers he could only guess what people wore around 3300 BC because organic materials decompose. The ice preserved Yotsi the Iceman’s clothes, and scientists were able to analyze the materials and determine their origin.

In a 2010 study in CHEMISTRY, a team of scientists analyzed the proteins in the hairs on his clothes and compared them to living animals. When he died, Yotzi Ledenia was wearing clothes made from several types of animal skins. He wore a cape of bearskin, leggings of sheep, and the uppers of his moccasins were of cattle.

Upon further analysis, they found that Yotsi the Iceman’s clothes had gone through a tanning process with animal fat. This led researchers to suggest that Yotsi the Iceman was a member of a more advanced society of farmers and herders, rather than hunters or nomads.

His shoes were stuffed with grass, will probably add more heat. He also had an outer coat made of woven grass. Based on these clothes, researchers believe that he was probably a farmer or shepherd, rather than someone of elite status.

(Credit: Nicolas Primola/Shutterstock)

Although Ötzi the Iceman was probably not in the upper echelon, analysis of his stomach contents reveals he was well fed and ate mainly meat and vegetables.

Ötzi the Iceman’s tattoos

Ötzi the Iceman received quite a bit of ink in his lifetime and is currently considered the oldest tattooed mummy. He has 61 tattoos concentrated on 19 areas of his body. Although the tattoos may have had symbolic or spiritual meaning, scholars believe that his tattoos were medical and intended for preventative or healing purposes.

For example, he has bluish-black lines drawn parallel in the lumbar region. Imaging tests revealed he had worn away cartilage in his lumbar spine and the tattoos may have responded to pain or stiffness.

Several of his tattoos were darker than others, suggesting that he may have been deliberately inked in the same spot multiple times.

The tattoos have led some researchers to suggest that ancient Europeans living in the Alps also practiced a form of acupuncture.

Scientists continue to study Yotzi the Iceman, his tattoos, clothing and tools. Although not all the mysteries surrounding his life will be solved, many questions researchers had about life during the Copper Age have been answered.

Read more: Finding Meaning Behind 61 Tattoos of 5,300-Year-Old Iceman Yotsi

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