Ötzi the Iceman
A few week ago, I happened upon the Wikipedia entry for Ötzi the Iceman, Europe’s oldest natural human mummy that dates back to 3,300 BC. I was absolutely fascinated by the depth of analysis that researchers had produced on this mummy. Scientists were able to determine Ötzi’s age, the contents of his last two meals, his profession, his lifestyle, and even his cause of death.
High levels of both copper particles and arsenic were found in Ötzi’s hair. This, along with Ötzi’s copper axe which is 99.7% pure copper, has led scientists to speculate that Ötzi was involved in copper smelting.
By examining the proportions of Ötzi’s tibia, femur and pelvis, Christopher Ruff has determined that Ötzi’s lifestyle included long walks over hilly terrain.
Furthermore, it’s even more fascinating to read about the tools and equipment that Ötzi had on him during his death.
Other items found with the Iceman were a copper axe with a yew handle, a flint-bladed knife with an ash handle and a quiver of 14 arrows with viburnum and dogwood shafts…. In addition, among Ötzi’s possessions were berries, two birch bark baskets, and two species of polypore mushrooms with leather strings through them. One of these, the birch fungus, is known to have antibacterial properties, and was probably used for medicinal purposes. The other was a type of tinder fungus, included with part of what appeared to be a complex firestarting kit. The kit featured pieces of over a dozen different plants, in addition to flint and pyrite for creating sparks.
I am simply blown away by the sophistication of our modern-day research tools. And at the same time I marvel at the ingenuity of humans; that we were such complex and intelligent beings even thousands of years ago. Where will we be in another 5,000 years from now?