Concentrating on keeping a foothold on the dangerous glacier, high up in the Ötztal Alps on the Italian/Austrian border, German tourists Helmut and Erika Simon may have thought, fleetingly, about coming across The Abominable Snowman. But they must have been even more astonished – or perhaps incredulous would be a better word – to discover the mummified, clothed body of a man, who was later estimated to have been there for an astonishing 3,500 years! The year was 1991; without doubt a red-letter day in their lives.
Nick-named Ötzi, the discovery must have excited a whole raft of people, keen to learn more about their frozen find. It was believed he lived from 3,350 to 3,105 BC. He was around 45 years old when he died (probably violently, from an arrow wound). He was 5′ 2” tall, wiry and took a shoe-size of size 8. He was also left-handed. He wore a woven grass cloak, fur hat, a hide coat, skin leggings and had quite elaborate deer skin shoes that were lined with grass.
They also found in his possession a half-finished bow and several arrows; a beautifully preserved copper axe; and a rudimentary ‘medicine kit’ of birch fungus, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
His body was heavily tattooed, with 61 distinctive markings. It has been suggested these may have been therapeutic in nature, an early form of acupuncture.
For some odd reason, I compared getting up that morning and going through my simple ablutions, dressing etc. with Ötzi’s experience. I doubt he had slept as well, or as comfortably. No quick ‘cuppa’ for him, he had to make a fire to boil the water for starters.
Scientific analysis of his stomach suggested he had consumed dried meat from red deer and wild goat, as well as grains. They also found traces of fruits, seeds and berries.
He would, of course, also have had to make his whole outfit, starting with his ‘tit-for-tat’ (Cockney slang for hat) by killing a furry animal, and then a larger animal to make his own coat and leggings. (No Izzi Solomon, the tailor around the corner for him… He would have been disgusted with the stitching!?)
It is doubtful Ötzi would have stopped hunting to indulge in a morning Cappuccino and croissant, but I’m hopeful he was planning to call in Cave No. 3, wherein lived a comely maiden. Or maybe he was already ‘spoken’ for and happily married, with two little Ötzis.
I like to think he enjoyed the sun on his face and the wind in his hair now and then, and – who knows – even experienced love.
© Copyright Joy Lennick 2022
Editing and additional research – Jason Lennick
This is very interesting! Thanks for sharing it.
Gracias, Darlene. xx
HI Joy, what an incredible find. I had not heard of these remains but my focus has always been Peru and the remains of sacrificed children that were found. Thanks so much for sharing this post.
A delightful post! I enjoyed it. (When I read the title in my email, I thought the post would be about a man who delivered ice to housewives!)
Thanks for reading and commenting, Robbie. I recall reading about the sacrificed children. Horrific! Do hope your son is better now. Hugs xx
Thanks, Liz. I found the story fascinating because of the length of time the guy had been mummified! (Confirms Mums’ warnings about wearing clean underwear at all times, especially if living in the frozen north.) One never knows… xx
You’re welcome, Joy. (I got a good chuckle out of your clean underwear comment.)
It’s remarkable that he and his clothes and weapons were preserved so well. Why him but nobody else?
Thanks for reading, Neil. Why indeed! Life is full of mysteries…Cheers x
I shall ski with more care next year….
Thanks for reading, Geoff. Quite a find! (After Helmut’s death, his widow received $150,000 !)
Thanks for this reminder. I remember it well. My sister, a fan of spelt flour was pleased to learn this was one of the contents of his stomach
Hi Derrick, Otzi was quite a find, eh! One never knows…
Wow, what a fascinating and well-preserved find this is so interesting, Joy thank you for sharing 🙂 xx
Thanks, Carol, I seem to learn something new more frequently than ever now I’m ancient…I’ve always been a curious person (or nosey parker…) It’s a fascinating world we live in – far from perfect, but still intriguing and well worth the ride!! I feel your ‘busy presence’ over the miles – I really do! Keep well. Cheers. xx
Isn’t it fascinating, Joy, to imagine the lives of our ancestors 3500 years ago. In the grand scheme of things, that wasn’t long ago, and I imagine that emotionally and intellectually they were identical to us. Otzi likely had a hard life, and at that time, a relatively long one. During the bronze age, the average life expectancy was 28-36 (if they survived childhood to the age of 15). I just love these discoveries. There’s so much to learn.
Thanks Diana! Now and then ‘life’ surprises in so many little and large ways, and it’s all so fascinating…Aren’t we lucky to experience it all!! Thought I would be jaded by now, but I’m not in the least. Have a most pleasant Sunday and week to follow. Hugs xx
Thanks Diana, Now and then ‘life’ surprises in so many little and large ways, and it’s all so fascinating (mostly!) Aren’t we lucky to experience it all! Thought I would be jaded by now…but I’m not in the least. Have a most pleasant Sunday and week to follow. Hugs xx
It does put our modern world in perspective doesn’t it.
It certainly does, Pam. Have a restful Sunday! x
This is fascinating. I can’t get my head wrapped around 3,500 years ago. Thank goodness the iceman was found and preserved. Thank you, Joy!
Many thanks for reading, Jennie. Fascinating, eh! Cheers xx
You’re welcome, Joy. Yes, fascinating!
That is amazing that he was left-handed! Thank you for sharing your thoughts about his morning rituals 🙂
Gracias, Tandy. Gets the old grey matter working. Quite a find! Carry on cooking… xx
Fascinating post Joy. Wonderful share 🙂 xxx
Thank you, Debs. Keep flying the flag…Take care. Hugs xxx
An extraordinary find and you fleshed out his life with great style Joy.. thanks for sharing. ♥
Hola Sally, Quite a find, wasn’t he? Thanks for reading. Keep well and look after your dear self. Hugs xx
Thanks Joy ♥
What an extraordinary post, Joy. Hugs on the wing.
Many thanks, Teagan. You just never know what’s going to turn up, do you! Cheers. xx
I remember this from years ago and followed a TV documentary about him. Fabulous post thanks for reminding me. Tweeted.
Thanks, Jane – and for high-lighting onTwitter… Most kind. Hugs xx
My pleasure, Joy, any time xx
What a brilliant discovery, and so fascinating, Joy. Thank you for sharing.
Gracias, Norah for reading and commenting. Cheers. x
I’m not sure what’s more amazing; that he lived to be forty, or was randomly found so many years later, OR the fact that forensic scientists (I assume) could tell what he ate for his last meal- incredible!
Thanks Jacquie, I was equally fascinated when reading the story. Isn’t science incredible what it can reveal… Hugs x
Such an enriching read joy. Wow, so precise they came so close to know the finest details too. Lovely and lovely to reach here on the blog. Thanks for writing Joy.
An interesting abd mysterious find Joy. x
I love discovering such little nuggets…Thanks for the read, Marje. xx
This sounds like the makings of a wonderful movie, Joy. What an interesting find. I’m with Jacquie – the contents of the stomach – amazing that they all would still be there.
My one claim to fame, if it can be called that – the summer before Ötzi the Iceman was uncovered, I was working on a dig at the site where his stone axe was made… (it wasn’t *that* interesting!)
Nice summary and reminder, thank you. I often write about prehistory and how different life must have been back then – although we are still the same people, and our thoughts and reactions are the same.