Ötzi the Iceman @ Mummy Tombs




His Health


Although the Iceman's body was in bad shape when it was discovered, he was in relatively good condition before his final day of life...for a man of his age and time period.

The latest DVD from PBS's NOVA:

Books about Ötzi

Children's Books about Ötzi

Scientists have studied his body, inside and out, to discover that he was about 5 feet 2 inches tall when he died. However, his body had shrunk over the 5,300 years, and he had lost a few inches when he was discovered. 

He weighed about 110 pounds at death, though again he lost considerable weight afterwards. Today, according to scientists, his mummified body weighs only about 29 pounds. 

When he died, he was about 45 years old, an age that not many at this time attained. He most likely had brown eyes and Type O blood.



During their scientific studies, researchers found a number of problems that the Iceman faced:


  1. He had whipworm parasite eggs in his colon. This means that Ötzi had a fairly severe intestinal disorder which would have caused diarrhea or possibly dysentery. 
  2. He had fleas, or so said scientist Konrad Spindler, in an interview with the Austrian Press Agency. According to Spindler, recent testing revealed the presence of two fleas in the Iceman's clothing. Spindler said that  fleas have previously been traced back only to the 5th or 6th Century B.C.
  3. His right hip joint showed signs of aging (it had a small fracture typical of what happens after a lifetime of wear and tear).
  4. His body showed signs of healed fractures (ribs and nose).
  5. His fingernails showed signs of stress during the last few months of his life.
  6. His lungs were discolored by the residue from smoky fires. 
  7. He had Lyme disease, perhaps the earliest known case of the illness.
  8. He was lactose intolerant.


The dental news is that he had terrible tooth decay and gum disease. The enamel of his teeth was worn down from the abrasive nature of the various milled grains he was eating; they were not finely ground. This is typical of many civilizations and not unusual.

And oddly enough, they discovered two peculiarities during their examinations. First, Ötzi had no wisdom teeth. Second, he was  missing his twelfth pair of ribs.



Finally, a note about his skin and hair. His body was naturally "scalped" by the process of mummification. The upper layer of skin including most of his hair had peeled right off the body during the time that he was in the ice. Though he had a full head of hair, it was not found attached to the body.