Friday, February 03, 2006

Poor Oetzi

Poor Oetzi the Iceman - the more we find out about him the sadder his story becomes. Oetzi is of course the 5300 year-old body found preserved in a glacier in the Alps on the Austrian/Italian border. He was discovered in 1991 and represents one of those "moments frozen in time" we archaeologists love. His miraculously preserved body, clothing, and equipage have provided unparalleled insights into life in Chalcolithic Europe.

Well at first it was thought that he was a poor traveler lost in a storm who had died of hypothermia. Then in 2001, an x-ray showed he had a projectile point buried in his shoulder that indicated he had been murdered. Further DNA work found the blood of four other people on his clothing and the detection of a cut on his hand showed he had been in quite a fight before he was killed. The fact that he carried a copper ax and other sophisticated weapons led some archaeologists to theorize he was a high status chief or shaman who was killed by jealous rivals.

Now a new study of Oetzi's DNA indicates that he carried genetic mutations that likely rendered him sterile. This leads other archaeologists to pose a counter theory that says he wasn't high status at all, but a childless outcast from society.

Well, after following the winding history of Oetzi studies for the last 15 years, I think I'll take my time before making my mind up about this theory.

1 comment:

Matt Mullenix said...

Or maybe, or we suspect people are about the same everywhere and everywhen, Oetzi knew perfectly well that he was infertile and didn't mind! Maybe the Chieftain's wife also knew this and didn't mind a'tall. Maybe the chieftains two beautiful daughters heard tell, and so forth.

I'm just saying...A guy could get himself outcast pretty quick. Maybe killed on a high lonely pass by a couple of angry husbands.