was named after the Ötzal Alps, the region in which his body was
discovered. He is also known as the Similaun Man, the Man from
Hauslabjoch, and even Frozen Fritz.
real name, of course, will always remain a mystery. But scientists
have been able to determine some information about his identity,
including his age. Bone studies (from nine different samples) suggest
that, when he died, the Iceman was 45.7 years of age (give or take 5
Other information about
Ötzi was a shepherd
time of his discovery in 1991, scientists and others have speculated that the
Iceman was a hunter. But a recent study published in the Journal
of Human Evolution ("Body size, body proportions, and mobility in
the Tyrolean ' Iceman,' " volume 51, issue 1, July 2006) suggests that he
may have been a shepherd instead.
By studying Ötzi's
leg bones, primarily his tibia,
or shin bone, and comparing it to the shin bones of 139 other prehistoric men
who lived from the Mesolithic age (Middle Stone Age) and from the Neolithic
age (Late Stone Age), scientists led by Christopher
Ruff from John Hopkins University hoped to answer the question: how did
the Iceman's measure up?
The answer: "In
many respects, his tibia more closely resembles those of European Mesolithic
rather than Neolithic males, which may reflect a more mobile lifestyle than was
characteristic of most Neolithic males, perhaps related to a pastoral
subsistence strategy" (that is, work as a shepherd). According to Dr. Ruff,
The Iceman "evidently went for long walks over extremely hilly
terrain" and "was much more active than his contemporaries" as
reflected by the appearance of his tibia.
Ruff continued, "He was more like the
people who came before" (that is the people from the Mesolithic Age) and
suggests that his occupation was "probably that of a high-altitude
shepherd." (News story at ansa.it.)
birthplace was in an area near the present day Italian village of Feldthurns (10/31/03).
An article entitled "Iceman's Origins
and Wanderings," published in Science,
presents the results of a scientific study in which the minerals found
in Ötzi's teeth, bones, and intestines were compared to those found in soil and
water samples taken from a wide area of the Tyrolean Alps.
The findings suggest that Ötzi was most likely
born in Italian village of Feldthurns
(also called Velturno; it is north of present-day Bolzano on the A22). However,
the results also indicate that he lived most of his life in other northern valleys.
The scientists deduced this by comparing the minerals in his tooth enamel with
those in his bones. They also analyzed bits
of mica found in his intestines (most likely these bits came from stones
containing mica that were used to grind grain that the Iceman ate).
The overall picture that emerged was that the Iceman didn't
roam more than about 37 miles (or 60 kilometers) from his birthplace.
Wolfgang Müller, the lead author of the study, from the Research School of Earth Sciences at the Australian
National University in Canberra explained: "From the enamel it is possible to
reconstruct the composition of the water Ötzi drank and get clues about the
earth where his food was grown. As a result we now
know Ötzi came from near to where he was found from the Eisack Valley [near
Feldthurns]. He spent his childhood there. And he spent his
adulthood in Lower Vinschgau [also in the Italian Tyrol]."
Dr. Müller also
concluded that Ötzi was not a world traveler (he hadn't hiked all over Europe)
and hadn't spent extensive time at higher elevations.
According to the BBC News Online, Dr. Alexander
Halliday of the Department of Earth Sciences at RTH Zurich told BBC News Online:
"This is the first time that anyone has made a comprehensive study of the
migration of a human in the past. It looks like he lived much of his life in a
different valley from where he was born."
This means that the Iceman was an early
"pre-Italian" to anyone keeping score.