“Otzi The Iceman”: Forensic Science and Ancient Medicine in a Cold Case Murder
January 30, 2023 @ 5:30 pm CST
Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
AIA Society: Mississippi/Memphis
Lecturer: Patrick Hunt
“Otzi” was found in an Alpine glacier in 1991 as a still mysterious high-altitude homicide from 5,300 years ago. The remarkable nature of his preservation makes it possible to study his remains in great scientific detail and reconstruct much of his late Neolithic to Early Copper Age life. Not only do we now have his fully sequenced DNA, but we also possess an incredible array of his organic materials including 18 different types of wood products and the surprising medical kit he carried. We can reconstruct his means to offset hypothermia crossing a high altitude pass at 10, 500 feet elevation on the current Italian- Austrian border multiple times in less than three days, most likely because he was a fugitive. While we have many scientific facts about him, we are still perplexed about the murderer[s] and the motive for his death. But we can now even provenance his copper axe and his flint arrowpoints as well as determine the scope of his many medical ailments and where he originated along with some of his complex activities including recent presence in an copper smelting environment due to microscopic hair particles. Whatever else we know or do not yet know about him, we can conclude “Otzi the Iceman” is a oneperson archaeological site and one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century.