Ötzi the iceman

The Similaun glacier comes down from the 3600 meters high homonymous mountain. In 1991 a couple of German climbers, while hiking the glacier, suddenly spotted a human body trapped in the ice. They reported their discover to the police but at the beginning nobody did care too much: it’s quite common to find corpses of soldiers from the First World War in this region of the Alps.

But after researches on the body it appeared that it has been buried in the ice for more than 5000 years. This mummified body of a prehistoric human (later called Ötzi) is one of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries of the last century: the body was well preserved, with clothing and all his hunting artifacts. Ötzi is the first Stone Age man ever found with his everyday clothing and equipment.

Last saturday I passed the night close to the Austrian–Italian border, on the rocky ridge at 3200 meters in order to be in place for my shooting at sunrise. While up there I tried to imagine the prehistoric man climbing those high and deserted places 5000 years ago, maybe following his prey or escaping his enemies.

Recent studies have discovered a stone arrowhead embedded in his left shoulder and some cuts on his hands, wrist and ribcage. In addition, traces of blood from four other people have been found on his clothes and weapons. These finds may indicate that he was involved in some violence and was perhaps killed.

If you would like to meet Ötzi, face to face, through a window in a special freezer, he is on show in Bolzano Museum (www.iceman.it).

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