the iceman fighteth

The famous 5,000-year-old iceman nicknamed “Otzi” died fighting, researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia told the BBC. Found in the Italian Alps in 1991, Otzi’s discovery made headlines around the world because his frozen remains were almost perfectly preserved. But the means of his death was the cause of much speculation. A flint arrowhead was found in his shoulder a few years ago, but only recently has more evidence of his final hours come to light. Molecular archeologist Tom Loy analyzed traces of blood found on Otzi’s clothes and weapons, and discovered that the blood came from several different people. There was also evidence of defensive cuts on Otzi’s hands and wrists. Loy told Reuters that he believes Otzi “was in a combat situation for between 24 to 48 hours before he died,” fighting off at least two foes, and that the blood found on the back of Otzi’s coat could have come from carrying a wounded companion.

This news brief appeared in the Random Data column of the Boston Globe’s Health/Science section on 8/19/2003.
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