Discovering a corpse nearly 5,300 years old.
Imagine you head out one beautiful morning for a hike. Everything seems pleasant and normal. Just then you discover a partially decomposed but a seemingly fresh dead body half frozen in ice. Quite a scary thing right? Well, that’s exactly what happened with hikers Helmut and Erika Simon who went for a mountain hike in Austro-Italian Alps and discovered the corpse of Otzi The Iceman, on Sept 19, 1991.
At first, they thought that it was just a random hiker who had tragically fallen from the mountain not so long ago. But, they didn’t realize that they had just made the most bizarre discovery of all time. Soon after the corpse was discovered, police and a team of detectives arrived at the scene. A group of archaeologists extracted the frozen body which was then sent for forensic tests and autopsy. And soon it was found that this was a very rare case indeed and that the body was somewhat at least 4,000 years old.
It was later confirmed that “Otzi The Iceman”(named after the site of his discovery in Ötztal Valley Alps, by an Austrian Journalist) died somewhere between 3350 and 3100 B.C. making him the oldest persevered human ever found, nearly 5,300 years old.
Unlike Egyptian and Incan mummies Otzi was a ‘wet’ mummy. The glacier he had died on froze his body, and most of his bodily parts and organs remained intact for quite a few millenniums. That’s how the modern autopsy was made possible on Otzi. His body was well preserved for someone so old. Under all these circumstances the researchers were able to figure out what life for him was like thousands of years ago.
His well-preserved skin revealed that in his time Otzi had at least 50 tattoos on his body that were made by filling charcoal in body cuts. The forensics further investigated the corpse, and the contents of his stomach showed different kinds of pollen which suggested that he died either in spring or summer, also that he had traveled to different heights of the mountain sometime before his death.
The mystery of the Iceman wasn’t confined only to his preservation. Almost a decade after his initial discovery, scientists found out the real cause of his death which was previously overlooked. With the use of X-rays, the scientists found an arrowhead stuck in his shoulder. Otzi was murdered. When this was revealed, the museum where Otzi was kept called Detective Inspector Alexander Horn from the Munich Police, since it was a murder case. Detective Inspector Alexander was surprised and said that the body was “in better condition than recent homicide victims I’ve worked on who have been found out in the open.”
According to Detective Alexander, Otzi’s belongings weren’t stolen, and he was shot from behind, these details suggested that the murder was personal.
Apart from this murder mystery, there are rumors of curse about Otzi. They say that anyone who would disturb him from his forever-lasting slumber will have to suffer the consequences. Coincidentally, one who the hikers, Helmut Simon, who originally found Otzi, died in an extremely dangerous blizzard and was buried under ice himself at a site not so far away from where Otzi was found.
This is without a doubt one of the most significant discoveries ever made.
A recreation of what Otzi The Iceman would have looked like