Ötzi the Iceman was murdered 5,300-years-ago. Since the discovery of his well-preserved body nearly twenty years ago, archaeologists have been piecing together a detailed picture of his life and death.
First detected by x-ray in 2001, the severity of the injury it caused had been debated – but a full CT (computed tomography) scan of the mummy has now confirmed that the arrowhead tore through a major artery. The experts say this would have led to internal bleeding and a rapid, shock-related cardiac arrest.
So who killed the Iceman and why? Archaeological sleuths Gostner and Andreas Lippert of the University of Vienna, Austria, recently put forward a new scenario in the periodical Germania – where they report that Ötzi also received a blow to the head.
Putting together all the pieces of the puzzle from the individual motes of forensic evidence, the experts argue that Ötzi was shot in the back by a distant assailant at a lower elevation.
He was then struck on the head and fell on his back, where he died. Finally, the murderer rolled Ötzi onto his front, with his arm folded under his body, and tugged the arrowshaft from where it was lodged his back.
There the Iceman remained for over 5,000 years, with his arm twisted under his body, and his longbow still leaning against the wall of the gully. It took the melting of the Tisenjoch glacier – which had been gliding over the protected hollow – to bring poor Ötzi back into the light of day.