Bolzano, Italy: An iceman with quite a story
It was a sunny September day in 1991 when two hikers made an extraordinary archaeological discovery: a man half-buried in the ice in the South Tyrol, who, it was later determined, lived sometime between 3350 and 3100 B.C.
What was so unusual about Ötzi, as he came to be known, is that he was mummified in a way that preserved body tissue, he wasn't buried in a ceremony, and he was found with the clothing and equipment he had with him on the day he died.
Here are some of the things Ötzi's discovery have told us about him: he was about 45 years old when he died and it was spring or early summer. The cause of death was an arrowhead in his shoulder — he was killed by another person. Among his possessions was a copper axe, which means he was someone of importance in his community. It's not clear whether he was a shepherd, hunter, traders, or perhaps a shaman.
We're totally fascinated by the guy and so are countless others who've followed his find, restoration, and his perhaps final resting place of the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy. Next year marks the 20th anniversary of his discovery and the museum will hold a special exhibition opening March 1st called Life Science Fiction Reality: Ötzi 20.
An essentially ordinary man, extraordinarily preserved to offer us the closest thing we'll ever get to a snapshot of a spring day, five thousand years ago. Cool.