Ötzi the Iceman @ Mummy Tombs




His Clothing and Tattoos

Ötzi the Iceman was fully clothed when he died...but his clothing did not fare well during the 5,300 years that he lay undiscovered in the glacier. A good part of it disintegrated...and when he was found, he was mostly naked except for his shoes.

The latest DVD from PBS's NOVA:

Still, researchers were pleased to find any clothing at all, since this type of material is very rare. When his body did appear from the ice, the back of his clothing was badly damaged (some even blew away), but because he was lying face down, substantial parts of his clothes were saved.

His clothing included:

Two of the items were particularly interesting to scientists and historians. 

1. His shoes. When he was discovered, the Iceman was wearing only his right shoe. They were made of various animal skins: bearskin soles, deerskin insteps, and chamois/cow/calf/linden bark uppers. The uppers were worn with fur on the outside and laced up. Dried tree bark (lime bast) was also stuffed inside the shoes to keep his feet warm. Although these are the oldest "shoes" ever found, a pair of 10,000-year-old slippers was discovered in Oregon, so they are the oldest footwear.

2. The grass mat. The mat, woven from swamp grass, was found in three separate pieces. At first, archaeologists believed that this was a cape, but the shoulders part of the cape seemed too narrow to be of any use. Instead, researchers now believe that this mat was worn over his head...as a type of protection from the rain (or possibly even snow) or possibly as a kind of backpack. 


Ötzi also had tattoos. Because they were hard to find on the mummified body, the number has varied over the years. Now researchers believe that they have found them all: 61 tattoos in all.

The tattoos were made by rubbing charcoal into punctured areas in his skin. According to Discover, the tattoos "are organized into 19 different groups. Each group of tattoos is simply a set of horizontal or vertical lines."

Since many of the tattoos are found in places where he had known ailments (such as arthritis) and where acupuncture treatments are typically done to alleviate pain, Ötzi's tattoos may provide evidence for knowledge of acupuncture techniques in the Copper Age.